ScotRail has introduced its temporary timetable with reduced services in response to staff shortages caused by coronavirus.
The timetable, which mainly impacts upon services in the central belt, will be in place from Tuesday, January 4 until January 28, and will operate between Monday and Friday.
It means a reduction in the number of the 2000 daily services operated by ScotRail by around 8%.
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, explained that by introducing a reduced timetable, the rail operator will be able to resource its services properly.
“We’ve got hundreds of staff across the business absent due to Covid and where that affects drivers and conductors clearly that results in cancellations,” he told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.
“So we’ve decided to proactively introduce a new timetable from (Tuesday), so operate slightly fewer services, about 160 of the 2000 services we operate every day to give customers greater certainty about their journey.”
Hynes indicated that it would not be possible to operate a full timetable, even if ScotRail wanted to do so.
He said: “Ever since the pandemic started, our ability to train drivers has been compromised, for example, because you can’t physically distance in the cab of a train.
“So, even if we wanted to operate a full timetable right now, we actually couldn’t.
“So, record numbers of Covid cases means that we run out of spare train crew and that leads to cancellations.
“And that’s one reason why we’ve introduced this slightly reduced timetable because it means we will be able to resource this properly and we can give customers the reliable service they deserve.”
Hynes indicated that the majority of service cuts are in the central belt, where there is more services generally.
“We were operating around 2000 services a day, we reduce that by about 160, that’s about 8% of our service,” he explained,” he said.
“Most of those service reductions are in the central belt, where of course frequencies tend to be higher anyway.
“So, we’ve changed our timetable to make sure that, A, we can operate it reliably, but secondly that we can deliver the best service to our customers.”