ScotRail is “actively considering” a reduction in services due to Scotland’s new lockdown, MSPs have been told.
Managing director Alex Hynes has said the current services do not offer value for money as the Scottish Government urges people to stay at home.
Mr Hynes told the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee at Holyrood that demand had fallen to 10% of pre-pandemic levels, with ScotRail currently running 80% of its services from before the first lockdown.
Earlier this month, the Scottish Government announced a legally-enforceable stay-at-home order following a spike in coronavirus cases caused in part by a new, more transmissible variant.
Mr Hynes told the committee: “We are actively considering further reductions to the train service because demand has fallen back to 10% of normal.
“That is something that we’re literally working on at the moment.”
Due to the pandemic, space must be left on trains to allow for passengers to socially distance but Mr Hynes feels that demand has dropped so far that trains could be shortened while still allowing the necessary space.
“It’s an opportunity to operate shorter trains and still provide space for physical distancing and an opportunity to operate fewer train services,” he told MSPs.
“At the moment, we’re operating about 80% of train services for about 10% of the demand, which is not good value for money for the taxpayer, so further train service reductions are under consideration.”
Mr Hynes did not say when an announcement on changes to schedules would be announced.
The appearance was also the first for Mr Hynes since the Stonehaven derailment, which killed two members of ScotRail staff and a passenger in August.
He paid tribute to the lives lost in the incident, saying: “The date of August 12 2020 will be seared into the memories of many of us forever and we continue to mourn the loss of train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury.”