ScotRail timetable cuts 'could last weeks' amid ongoing pay dispute

The new schedule will see nearly a third of services axed and last trains leaving between 7pm and 8pm.

ScotRail timetable cuts ‘could last weeks’ amid drivers’ ongoing pay dispute iStock

A temporary timetable which will see around 600 daily ScotRail services axed could be in place for weeks, the company has said.

The new schedule will start on Monday amid an ongoing pay dispute with train drivers’ union Aslef which has seen drivers decline to work overtime or rest days.

ScotRail, which was nationalised last month, announced the move to cut nearly a third of its services on Wednesday on social media.

Bosses claim the temporary timetable will provide “greater certainty” for passengers following a series of train cancellations across the country.

ScotRail service delivery director, David Simpson, said it is hoped the temporary timetable will only be in place in the short term but it depends on talks with the union.

‘I’d hope temporary means as short as possible but it does depend on making some progress with the pay talks which are the root cause of this problem’

ScotRail service delivery director, David Simpson,

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Thursday: “I’d hope temporary means as short as possible but it does depend on making some progress with the pay talks which are the root cause of this problem.

“We’re trying to minimise the impact of this by making the service more predictable to customers and we plan to leave this timetable in place until we make any progress in the pay talks, which would see a resumption of the normal levels of overtime working which are currently necessary to run the full service because of the impact the pandemic had on our driver training programme over the last couple of years.”

Asked whether the timetable could be in place for weeks or potentially months, he said: “I hope it’s less than that, I’m always hopeful we’ll make some progress, I think certainly weeks is potentially possible but we’ll do everything in our power to keep the duration of this as short as possible.”

He said there will be a review process to look at how the temporary timetable is affecting customers and how it is being delivered, and if improvements can be made ScotRail will do so.

Mr Simpson said the operator is keen to get round the table with Aslef and resolve the issue.

He said: “We’ve made a very good offer to Aslef which includes both the 2.2% on basic pay and the opportunity to participate in a revenue share arrangement to share in ScotRail’s success as passenger numbers pick up.”

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth was asked about the situation at Holyrood on Wednesday.

She said the temporary timetable was necessary because some drivers “did not take up the option of overtime and rest day working” following the decision by Aslef to ballot for industrial action over pay.

She told MSPs the revised timetable would give a “more stable and reliable service” to passengers.