Commuters have been warned to plan their journeys for the remainder of the week ahead of time as Scotland’s rail network is set to be hit by significant disruption due to strike action.
Members of the RMT union who work for Network Rail announced they will walk out on Thursday and Saturday this week over a pay dispute.
ScotRail workers are not involved in the walkout, however signal operators will be among those taking action, meaning only a limited number of services are able to run.
Previous industrial action saw fewer than 200 trains able to run, however that number will rise to 378 for Thursday and Saturday’s strikes as further routes open to Fife and the East coast.
But major transport hubs including Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central will close before 7pm, with the final services leaving at around 6.30pm, Network Rail warned.
“It is very unfortunate to see such widespread disruption across the whole of the Great Britain rail network and we know this will be frustrating for ScotRail customers,” said David Simpson, the operator’s service delivery director.
“Regrettably, this strike action by RMT members of Network Rail means that we will not be able to operate the vast majority of our services during the period of strike action.
“Customers should expect significant disruption to services on strike days, as well as the following day.
“We are able to operate on more routes than on the previous day of strike action, however, we are still only able to run a very limited number of services on these routes, so we’re advising customers to seek alternative means of transport and to only travel if they really need to.”
Customers are also warned to expect disruption on Friday and Sunday, the two days following the strikes, as the reactivation of signal boxes will cause some services to be pushed back or cancelled.
It is the latest in a wave of strikes to hit the rail network this summer following previous action which ground routes to a halt.
RMT secretary general Mick Lynch said the dispute was “not just about a wage rise”.
“The Government and the employers want to slash jobs, terms and conditions as well as services like ticket offices,” he said.
“The transport minister Grant Shapps is now threatening our members with P&O style fire and rehire and the reintroduction of Driver Only Operated services, which will lead to a fall in safety standards and job losses.
“If Mr Shapps proceeds on this course, RMT will use the industrial mandate it has from its 40,000 members in this dispute to take more strike action in the coming weeks and months,”
Disruption is also likely to be felt the day after the strikes, with signal boxes in the central belt able to be turned on at around 7.15am, but it could take into the afternoon, ScotRail said, to restore services in other areas.
Revised ScotRail timetable for Thursday, August 18 and Saturday, August 20:
Two trains per hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street, Edinburgh and Helensburgh Central, Glasgow Central and Hamilton, Glasgow Central and Lanark, Edinburgh and Inverkeithing, Edinburgh and Tweedbank and Milngavie and Springburn.
One train per hour on the impacted days between Edinburgh and Glasgow Central, Edinburgh and North Berwick, Glasgow Queen Street and Larbert, and Glasgow Queen Street and Falkirk Grahamston.
No service on any unlisted routes.
The services will run between 7.30am and the final train will leave “well before” 6.30pm.