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ScotRail train cuts: Why is it happening, will it affect me and how long will it last for?

Scotrail sunday timetable
ScotRail claim a meeting with RMT is going ahead next week. Picture by Kami Thomson.

Rail passengers and businesses across Scotland are angry after more than 700 train services have been temporarily cut by ScotRail in an escalating dispute over pay and lack of train drivers.

Train drivers have refused ScotRail requests to work overtime shifts which has created a driver shortage forcing the newly nationalised company to scrap about 30% of its scheduled weekday rail services.

From Monday, this will see the last train on many north and north-east routes departing well before 8pm.

ScotRail train services
ScotRail was nationalised on April 1 of this year. Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

Why have train services been cut?

For some time now, ScotRail say that train services across Scotland have been relying on drivers working overtime or on their rest days to run a normal timetable.

The company said the pandemic meant that training new drivers was significantly delayed, creating a shortage across the network.

Following an announcement by the drivers’ union ASLEF that it is preparing to ballot its members in June on strike action over pay, a significant number of drivers have been refusing to work extra shifts.

This has resulted in the recent disruption and the need to cut services.

Hundreds of trains have been cancelled since May 8 when drivers began opting not to work overtime.

ScotRail’s May 2022 timetable had approximately 2,150 weekday services, but from next week this will be reduced temporarily by a third to 1,456.

How will this affect ScotRail train services near me?

The biggest change in the timetable appears to be the time of the last trains running each day.

Depending on exactly where you’re going, the final train of the day may be as much as four hours earlier than we are used to on the current timetable.

For example, from Monday the last weekday train from Inverness to Aberdeen will leave at 18.05pm instead of 21.33pm, and the last service from Glasgow to Aberdeen will leave at 18.41pm instead of 21.40pm.

Similar cuts are expected to Saturday and Sunday rail services, ScotRail has said, but these are yet to be announced.

The ScotRail app and online journey planner have been updated to reflect the new changes, but the firm is advising all passengers to check services are running before they travel.

How long will this go on for?

At the moment it’s not clear how long these timetable changes will be in place for.

David Simpson, ScotRail’s service delivery director, told BBC Scotland that the disruption could last for several weeks if the company was unable to reach a deal with Aslef.

He said: “I’d hope temporary means as short as possible but it does depend on making some progress with the pay talks which are the root cause of this problem.

“We’re trying to minimise the impact of this by making the service more predictable to customers and we plan to leave this timetable in place until we make any progress in the pay talks.”

ScotRail train at Queen Street in Glasgow
Timetable disruptions may go on for several weeks. ScotRail train pictured at Queen Street station. Picture by Shutterstock.

During First Minister’s questions at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon said it was vital to get rail services back to normal as quickly as possible, with the timetable to be formally reviewed on June 3.

Additional drivers were also being trained up, she added.

“I expect ScotRail to make sure that this temporary timetable is just that – temporary – and the timetable gets back to normal as quickly as possible,” she said.

More on the ScotRail train services cuts:

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