Rail passengers are facing major disruption after staff at ScotRail walked out on strike in a dispute over pay, with only an “extremely limited” service running.
More than 2,000 ScotRail employees are estimated to be taking part in the action on Saturday – with staff working as conductors, ticket examiners, station staff, engineering depot staff and CCTV operators all involved.
As a result, the publicly owned rail operator has been forced to cancel the majority of its services, with trains operating on just three routes across the central belt.
Among those caught up in the disruption are rugby fans travelling to Murrayfield to see Scotland take on Australia in the autumn test series.
ScotRail warned that there will be a very limited service to the match, with no ScotRail services leaving after full-time and urged fans “please consider alternative travel options”.
Leaders of the RMT trade union have insisted they will strike for “as long as it takes” to get what they regard as a fair pay deal.
Members manned picket lines around the country at stations including Glasgow Central, Glasgow Queen Street, Edinburgh Waverley, Dumfries and Ayr on Saturday.
Trains were operating on just three routes across the network: Milngavie to Edinburgh Waverley via Glasgow Queen Street Low Level (half hourly service); Glasgow Central to Lanark (hourly service) and Glasgow Central – Larkhall (hourly service).
The action is going ahead despite an improved offer being made – with this understood to be worth around 7.5% comprising a £500 uplift on top of the 5% already offered.
But Mick Hogg, the union’s Scotland organiser, said on Friday that this was not enough, claiming: “We want more because the retail price index is 12.6% so the offer that is on the table comes nowhere near acceptable to RMT members.”
ScotRail had previously said the pay offer was conditional on this weekend’s industrial action being withdrawn.
Further action is also planned for November 5,7 and 9 when Network Rail staff who are RMT members will walk out in the ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions.
David Simpson, ScotRail’s delivery director said the RMT’s demands were “unaffordable”.
Speaking ahead of this latest strike getting under way, he said: “We’ve had a very frustrating week with the RMT.
“We’ve worked hard since the ballot which caused the strike action to find a way to get more money in our staff’s pockets in a way that is affordable to the Scottish public given the financial challenges facing the industry.
“This week we were able to find a way to improve the offer significantly.
“We hear from members they are keen to get this resolved and keen to start providing a great service to customers again.”
Mr Simpson said: “What we want to do is get back to running a full timetable, providing the service we know our passengers want.”