Hundreds of ScotRail services to be cut from pre-pandemic timetable

ScotRail will operate 2150 daily services from May 2022.

Hundreds of ScotRail services to be cut from pre-pandemic timetable iStock

Hundreds of ScotRail services are set to be cut from pre-pandemic levels.

It comes after a consultation by the rail operator over its future timetable development.

In a statement, ScotRail confirmed that it will operate 2150 daily services from May 2022, indicating that this will provide “more than 590,000” seats.

The rail operator states it is an increase of “nearly 150 services each day” compared to when their consultation began last year.

However, the figure is below the 2400 daily services that were in operation before the pandemic.

Unions, including the RMT, have raised concerns that the cuts could have a particular impact on some of the most vulnerable railway users, including those with disabilities.

And the RMT has taken aim at Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government in enabling Abellio to make the changes ahead of the franchise being nationalised next month.

Mick Hogg, RMT regional organiser, told STV News that the move was “deliberate and calculated”, as he hit out at the “absolutely disgraceful” cuts.

The unions have also called for a halt to plans to slash the number of ticket offices, and reducing hours.

ScotRail has insisted that it is “not sustainable” to continue to run services with empty seats whilst commuter numbers remain below what they were before the pandemic.

The rail operator estimates that their new timetable will help off-peak travel recover to 2019 levels by the end of 2022.

However, they have said that “it isn’t yet clear if peak and commuting journeys will ever return to 2019 levels”.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth last week told the Scottish Parliament said it makes “little sense” for services to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“With more people working from home, weekends are now the busiest times for rail travel, so returning to pre-pandemic timetables makes little sense,” she said.

“Nonetheless, it is worth noting that ScotRail announced this afternoon that, from May this year, 150 more services will be added, compared with December last year.

“That equates to around 2150 daily services, a move that I hope members will welcome.”

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Neil Bibby urged the Scottish Government to “stand up for rail”.

“After years of ScotRail chaos, this is a chance for the new transport minister to take a new approach and for the Green Party to stand up for their principles in government and defend rail,” he said.

“These brutal cuts would gut ScotRail just as ministers take it into public hands, ending hopes for change under public ownership before it has even began.

“The SNP-Green Government must stand up for rail and show they are committed to building a modern railway service that truly puts people first.

“We need a real vision for the new publicly owned ScotRail, built around affordability and accessibility for passengers, collective bargaining and fair pay for staff, and green, modern technology for the planet.”

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