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Train cuts make ‘little difference’ to Tartan Army travelling to World Cup play-offs, says transport minister

Football fans will not be able to get the train home to Tayside
Football fans will not be able to get the train home to Tayside

Scotland fans in the north and north-east are being told train cuts to services make “little difference” to their ability to get to and from the vital World Cup play-off with Ukraine on Wednesday.

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth accepted football fans will not be able to get a train home from the match on June 1 – but admitted they wouldn’t have been able to get one before the cuts either.

Since the “temporary” downgrading of 700 train services, there have been concerns from football fans hoping to watch the Scotland v Ukraine match at Hampden Park.

The cuts are part of industrial action where train drivers are refusing to work on their days off.

On Monday night, ScotRail announced it would add an extra 13 services after the match to help fans get home – but none of them are heading north.

No trains north after play-off match

The services go to Edinburgh, Stirling, Ayr, Gourock, East Kilbride and Neilston.

Speaking in Holyrood on Tuesday, Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said: “Tomorrow Scotland plays Ukraine.

“The 11th hour services laid on are welcome but they are no use if you come from Dundee, Aberdeen or Perth.”

He also said the government should have plans in place for other large scale events coming up such as the Edinburgh Fringe and The Open in St Andrews.

Ms Gilruth replied: “There has been a lot of unclear and unhelpful commentary to fans travelling home after the game.

“The 7.07pm service is the last train to Inverness on both the full May 2022 timetable and the current temporary timetable, so there is no change to travel options for fans.

“For the Aberdeen service 6.41pm is the last ScotRail train on the temporary timetable.

“But 9.40pm was the last one on the May 2022 timetable, so fans would not have been able to use this service after the game.

“For fans in the north the temporary timetable actually makes little difference and many fans will be travelling by private bus hire.”

Previously the transport minister had urged fans to take the bus to and from Hampden Park because of the ongoing train cuts.

Dispute ‘could be resolved tomorrow’

Ms Gilruth also added the industrial dispute “could be resolved tomorrow” as the train drivers union Aslef considers a new pay offer of 4.2%.

She has also written to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and says ScotRail is due to meet with the RMT union to discuss pay options later this week.

When asked if a resolution to the dispute was near she said: “I’m hopeful.

Jenny Gilruth MSP

“Obviously the offer will be put to Aslef at their meeting tomorrow.

“And it will be up to the members to decide whether or not they want to take that forward and then whether or not it will go to a referendum of members too.

“I’m hopeful, I think it’s a good offer that ScotRail have tabled, but it’s up to Aslef to decide whether or not they want to accept that offer.

“I know that Aslef and other trade unions in rail want to make public ownership a success so moving forward I’m really keen to work with them on how we do that.

“Getting a resolution here is absolutely essential.”

‘We’ve been left twiddling our thumbs’: Train driver says ScotRail cuts have been far more extreme than necessary


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