COMMUTERS face a race against time to get home after rail chiefs warned there will be no trains after 5.30pm during next week’s strike.
Thousands of workers who flock into Edinburgh from Glasgow, Linlithgow and Falkirk face two days of travel chaos.
If this industrial action goes ahead, the impact on customers is going to be severePhil Verster
Trains between Edinburgh and Glenrothes will also be hit if signallers, maintenance staff and station workers walk out at 5pm on Monday in the first UK-wide rail strike for 21 years.
ScotRail will only run a “handful of services” on Monday and Tuesday if the national 24-hour strike, involving three trade unions, takes place as planned.
Services will connect Edinburgh and Glasgow every 15 minutes during the day, but the final train will depart Waverley at around 5.30pm, with commuters being urged to seek alternative modes of transport or work from home.
ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster said: “If this UK-wide industrial action goes ahead as planned, the impact on customers is going to be severe. For the vast majority of people in Scotland, there will be no train service at all on these two days.
“We will only be able to run a handful of services, and those that we are able to run will operate on a reduced service.
“Those services will be much busier than usual, so if customers are able to make other arrangements, I would kindly ask them to please do so.
“We have released this information early because it is our priority to make sure that our customers have enough time to make decisions about their journey.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who has chaired a resilience meeting to thrash out the contingency plans, warned of “widespread cancellations and disruptions on the railways”.
ScotRail said it will not be able to operate most of its services if the strike takes place, and has published details of a reduced timetable on its website.
The RMT union is in dispute with track operator Network Rail over pay, but talks with the arbitration service Acas are ongoing in a bid to avoid the strike.
Up to 25,000 Network Rail members of the RMT, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association and Unite could take part in the strike.
Mr Verster said he was “disappointed” that customers would have to experience this level of disruption, adding: “We are doing everything we can to safely run as many services as is possible under the circumstances.
“I know that many people right across the country are going to be seriously inconvenienced by this UK-wide industrial action. I am genuinely sorry that, under these circumstances, we cannot run our normal levels of train services that our customers expect.”
Mr Swinney said he was “concerned” about the planned strike but was “encouraged” that both parties were back round the table trying to resolve the dispute.