Scotland’s transport minister has told football fans to get the bus if they want to attend the World Cup play-off against Ukraine because of the lack of train services.
Around 50,000 fans are expected to head to Hampden Park on June 1 to watch Steve Clarke’s side bid to go one step closer to the World Cup in Qatar.
But concerns have been raised over how the Tartan Army will get to and from the stadium while ScotRail slashes timetables in a pay dispute.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth is under pressure to put on extra services to ensure fans get to “the biggest game in 20 years”.
But in Holyrood on Tuesday, the Fife MSP said ScotRail has a plan in place for the match day and suggested fans should take a bus instead.
Fans to plan to travel by bus
Around 700 fewer train services will be running on the day of the match because of the reduced timetable.
And on June 1, the last train to Aberdeen leaves Glasgow Queen Street at 6.41pm – more than an hour before the game at Hampden kicks off.
In parliament, Ms Gilruth said: “Many attendees will already have plans to make use of Scotland’s extensive bus services that serve key routes.
“It is important to remember why this dispute is happening.
“ScotRail has taken the decision to put in place a temporary timetable as part of a pay dispute of train drivers not to take up the option of Sunday and rest day working.
“Rest day working is entirely voluntary and this has been a feature of British railways for many, many years, entirely predating nationalisation last month.
“I do understand the concerns of supporters planning to attend the Scotland match against Ukraine, which is Scotland’s most important game in a long time.
“We really want to ensure that supporters can get both to and from the match on public transport, including using where possible our bus services across Scotland.”
Ms Gilruth also pointed out fans would still not be able to get home from Glasgow to Aberdeen under the old timetable, as the last train home at 9.40pm would still have been too early.
Accusations of union being disrespectful
This comes hours after Ms Gilruth accused the RMT union of being disrespectful.
Mick Hogg, Scottish regional organiser of the RMT, said the transport minister was “telling lies” when she said she wanted to see unions and ScotRail get round the table to negotiate.
Speaking to MSPs on a Holyrood committee in the morning, Ms Gilruth said: “I’ve got to say, in terms of the respectful tone between government and trade unions, the use of that word, I don’t find particularly respectful.
“I don’t think it’s accurate either.
“I spent a lot of time at the start of my appointment with our trade union partners to try and bring them into the conversation about the future of Scotland’s trains.”
Ms Gilruth said she spent “considerable” time with ScotRail on Friday and again on Monday to discuss the problems.