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New train timetable starts today – as SNP beg ScotRail and unions to solve pay row

ScotRail services have been slashed temporarily.

ScotRail’s temporary reduced timetable comes into force from today – as an SNP minister warned train drivers they must be “sensible” with pay demands.

Train services across the country have been plunged into chaos with up to 700 being slashed for at least two weeks and key routes finishing hours earlier than normal.

ScotRail admitted yesterday they were still to finalise a definite weekend timetable, sparking further uncertainty for passengers.

It was warned the cuts could cost Scotland’s economy up to £80 million per week.

Key services scaled back

Trains from Perth to Dundee will now stop at 8.26pm during the week, while unlucky commuters can’t travel between Aberdeen and Inverness from shortly after 6pm.

Services from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Dundee and Aberdeen will also be heavily disrupted by the new timetable.

The disruption has been sparked by a huge pay row between ScotRail and the Aslef union, with the SNP urging both parties to reach an agreement.

Drivers are refusing to work overtime, since they believe pay rise offers are not good enough given soaring inflation.

The rail chaos is a major blow for the SNP, who brought ScotRail under public ownership less than two months ago.

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted there is no guarantee the conflict will be resolved anytime soon.

MSP Richard Lochhead.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.

However, SNP minister Richard Lochhead insisted it was the right call but admitted the situation is “highly regrettable”.

The Moray MSP told the BBC: “We are urging as hard as we can parties to get round the table and resolve this.

“My message to all workers in Scotland in all these sectors is we have to be sensible.

“Everything has to be affordable because the country’s in a very precarious position at the moment.

“If we take wrong decisions we could end up with a recession which will cause a lot of damage to people’s lives.”

But he refused to say how much he believes train drivers should be paid, or whether they are right to be angry at their current offer.

‘Compromise is needed’

Mr Lochhead added: “It’s not for me as a minister to say what the right or wrong wage is for a train driver.

“But it’s really important that people are compromising and recognising the consequences of these disputes dragging on for too long.

“I’d ask everyone to look at whether the country can afford what they’re asking for.

“Quite clearly, if you’re facing rocketing energy bills, you’re going to want that to be reflected in the salary you earn.”

‘Disaster’

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the nationalisation of ScotRail had turned into a “disaster” when he grilled the first minister last Thursday.

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said: “The SNP and the likes of Richard Lochhead continue to insult passengers with their lacklustre attitude.

“Instead of trying to brush this shambolic situation under the carpet, the SNP must sort out the mess they have caused and strike a deal to end this dispute.”

SNP transport minister Jenny Gilruth claimed temporarily scaling back train services would give passengers more certainty and stop trains from being axed suddenly.

ASLEF organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “Richard Lochhead wants people to be ‘sensible’ over pay claims – from an ASLEF point of view the most sensible thing he could do right now is tell ScotRail to get back to the negotiating table to settle this dispute.

“It is not sensible to ask workers to accept 2.2% when inflation is heading north of 10% and it is not credible to blame workers for the state of the economy.”

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