Edinburgh trains: ScotRail brings in temporary timetable to provide more certainty amid driver shortage

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ScotRail is to introduce a temporary timetable “to provide greater certainty and reliability” amid a shortage of train drivers.

Scores of services have had to be cancelled over the past few days. ScotRail said fewer train drivers than normal were currently available for overtime or rest day working, as is their contractual right, following confirmation from drivers’ union Aslef that it will recommend to its executive committee a ballot for industrial action over pay.

A temporary timetable is intended to give passengers more certainty and reliability.  Picture: John Devlin.A temporary timetable is intended to give passengers more certainty and reliability.  Picture: John Devlin.
A temporary timetable is intended to give passengers more certainty and reliability. Picture: John Devlin. | TSPL

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The temporary timetable - which can be viewed here - will come into effect from tomorrow, Wednesday July 10.

ScotRail said it would mean fewer services at morning and evening peak periods - for example, instead of four trains per hour in the peak, these would be reduced to two, in other words a half hourly service, which is the same as off-peak.

Aslef responded to the move by claiming that “slashing” the timetable amounted to “economic vandalism” which would hit towns and cities across Scotland. And the union called on ScotRail to come back with a “credible” pay offer.

ScotRail said it would still be operating around 1,660 services each day, Monday to Saturday - nearly 200 more than when another temporary timetable was introduced in 2022 to meet similar disruption. And it said there would be more than 515,000 seats each day, around twice the number of passenger journeys being made.

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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.”

ScotRail said over the past number of weeks, it had been in pay discussions with the rail trade unions, Aslef, RMT, TSSA, and Unite. A formal pay offer in line with the Scottish Government’s public sector pay policy was made on Friday July 5, but rejected by all four trade unions.

The operator said it was currently recruiting 160 new drivers each year – the highest level ever – but some rest day working and overtime was still needed to deliver a normal timetable, as was the case with other train operators across Britain.

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However, Aslef’s Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay 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.”

He accused the Scottish Government of taking a “fantasy land” approach to industrial relations on the railways. He said: “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.

“After his humbling result in last week's election John Swinney said he would listen and learn lessons. He seems to have his hands cupped to his ears when it comes to listening to Scotland's Train Driver's.  We are saying loud and clear to him and his government to stop behaving like a Tory First Minister, and get back round the negotiating table with a credible pay offer for our members.”

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* Passengers are being strongly advised to check their journey before travelling by using the ScotRail website or app. These systems are due to be updated by around 10pm today. Timetables for weekend travel are due to be in systems on Thursday evening.

Refunds are available to customers for booked journeys which are affected by the temporary timetable with no additional admin fee. Alternatively, customers can use their tickets to travel on an alternative service, or the day before or two days after their planned journey.

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