Scotland’s transport minister has said she knows how infuriating it is when trains are cancelled.
But Jenny Gilruth was unable to give any guarantees on the length of time a temporary timetable would be in place after rail services were cut by one third.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme today the minister was unable to confirm why there were no posts for train drivers on ScotRail’s website. That is in spite of an eye-watering 130 vacancies for drivers – with only 55 drivers in training.
ScotRail, which was nationalised on April 1, has been beset with problems over the last few weeks as drivers are refusing to work on rest days.
Ms Gilruth said 38 drivers will be fully trained by the end of the summer. She hopes by spring 2023 – 100 drivers will be trained.
From Monday almost 700 services a day will be cut from the timetable as negotiations between ScotRail and Aslef continue over pay and overtime.
How long will ScotRail temporary timetable last?
Train users have had services cut at the last minute, with a temporary timetable put in place.
Aslef has rejected a 2.2% pay offer, and is claiming “political interference” in negotiations.
Ms Gilruth said: “I want to work with the unions.
“We need to get to a resolution on pay. I strongly urge Aslef to continue to negotiate with their employer ScotRail and we can remove this temporary timetable.
“Scotrail hope to have 38 drivers by end of the summer, 55 by the end of the year and 100 drivers by June 2023. There are more drivers working than ever before.”
“If it had not been for the impact of the pandemic we would have been able to phase out the use of rest day working.”
Asked if the temporary timetable would be in place until 2023, Ms Gilruth said: “Absolutely not. I urge trade unions to come back to the table. We need to phase out the practice of rest day working. It is time for the unions to come back to the table.
“Disappointing that drivers are refusing to work on their rest days, but that is completely within their gift.”
Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby told the same programme the reduced services will cause “chaos for passengers and workers and businesses” across the country.
He said the cuts are “avoidable” and the situation “needs resolved”.
He added: “The Scottish Government needs to ensure that ScotRail management are entering into meaningful talks with the unions to ensure that the level of service can be restored for people in Scotland, and also needs to address the long-term understaffing that there has been on our railways that’s driving this situation at the moment.”