ScotRail cancels hundreds of services amid driver shortage

The national train operator is introducing a reduced timetable from Wednesday amid an ongoing pay dispute with drivers.

ScotRail is introducing a reduced timetable with more than a quarter of services cancelled as a result of the ongoing impact of a dispute with drivers.

Services across the country have been significantly impacted by crew shortages as drivers refuse to take on overtime or rest day working as part of the dispute.

The train operator said overtime has historically been needed to deliver a normal timetable of more than 2,250 services each day.

To provide a more “reliable” service, a temporary reduced timetable will be introduced from Wednesday, July 10.

Under the temporary measures only around 1,600 services will be operating between Monday to Saturday with customers warned to expect a change in some first or last trains and the number of services provided during the morning and evening peak times.

Separate plans are expected to be announced to support customers attending major events in the coming weeks including The Open at Royal Troon.

The train operator has been in pay discussions with rail trade unions ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, and Unite, for several weeks. A formal pay offer was made on July 5, however, this was rejected by all four trade unions.

ASLEF has confirmed that it will recommend a ballot for industrial action.

Mark Ilderton, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “We are very sorry to customers for the disruption to services. We know that customers want certainty and reliability, which is why we are introducing a temporary timetable, in place of late-notice cancellations.

“We are operating services which the vast majority of customers use and are still using all the available trains in our fleet so customers can continue to travel.

“We want to resolve the pay dispute with the trade unions and remain fully committed to further discussions.

“We’re asking customers to check their journey on our website or mobile app, as train times will have changed.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We acknowledge the desire of rail unions to negotiate a fair settlement for their members.

“ScotRail, as a public body and the employer, has responsibility and the ability to negotiate within the limits of public sector pay metrics. However, as rail unions have been made aware, any offer beyond these requires Scottish Government approval at senior level following the appropriate process.

“We would encourage rail unions to continue meaningful dialogue with ScotRail, so that a mutually agreeable outcome can be reached as soon as possible.”

Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF Scottish Organiser, said: “Rather than slashing the timetable in an act of economic vandalism that will impact towns and cities across Scotland as well as Scotland’s rail passengers, ScotRail and the Scottish Government must get serious about pay and urgently get back round the negotiating table with a serious and credible offer.

“The Scottish Government is currently taking a fantasy land approach to industrial relations on our railways. We met the First Minister, John Swinney on May 28 and told him then that the offer being made to our members was completely unacceptable and sadly, ScotRail have parroted this same offer ever since. 

“The Scottish Government and ScotRail need to understand quickly that investment in our railways includes investing in its most precious resource, its workers.  We urge them to come back to us with an offer that is serious and that treats our members with the fairness and respect they deserve.”

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