ScotRail hit by further cancellations despite promise of 'more certainty' with reduced timetable
ScotRail’s controversial reduced timetable has been hit by a raft of cancellations on its first day, despite assurances by ministers that it would provide passengers with greater “certainty” around their travel plans.
As of 10am, there were 11 cancellations, over a third of which were attributed to a shortage of train drivers. The other services were cancelled because of a “shortage of train crew,” according to ScotRail’s journey checker service.
On Friday, transport minister Jenny Gilruth said the new temporary timetable - which has culled around a third of weekday services - would “give passengers more certainty for the short term, rather than being faced with unplanned cancellations.”
David Simpson, ScotRail’s service delivery director, also said that the new timetable would give its customers “a level of certainty and reliability.”
However, just hours after the new timetable came into force, commuters were being hit with further disruption across the already reduced network.
The cancellations impacted two services between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, Glasgow to Oban, and Oban to Crianlarich. Glasgow services to and from Newton and Largs were also affected.
Three other services were also impacted by a shortage of train drivers, with a late morning service from Fort William to Glasgow Queen Street terminating at Crianlarich. Two evening services between Aberdeen and Dundee were set to call at additional stations for the same reason.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, described the situation as “an omnishambles dressed up as a bin fire.”
Even on many services which ran as scheduled, the number of coaches was reduced due to widespread staffing issues. The reduced coaches were blamed on a shortage of train crew across 26 services, with a shortage of train drivers cited on six services.
In all, some 97 fewer carriages were running across 57 services, according to journey check, with the number of carriages being reduced from five to two in some cases.
The scaled-back timetable will see almost 700 fewer trains running Monday to Friday due a stand-off with Aslef, the train drivers’ union, which has rejected a 2.2 per cent pay rise.
It means that the last train on the many routes will depart in the early evening rather than late at night. The last train from Glasgow to Aberdeen, for example, will now depart at 6.41pm, instead of 9.40pm. The Glasgow to Mallaig service, which usually leaves at 6.21pm, now departs at 12.22pm.
Aslef and the RMT union, which has also rejected a 2.2 per cent pay deal, are both balloting their members for strike action.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Simpson said that compromise will be required on both sides of the negotiating table.
"The demands of 10% to 11% are just not sustainable in the current economic climate with the railway,” he told BBC Radio Scotland.
"We need to find a way around that. We need to recognise the kind of demands the unions are making but also the need to demonstrate taxpayer value."
Ms Gilruth met ScotRail officials on Friday to discuss the ongoing cuts. But she said she could not put "put a number on" a reasonable pay offer," as the decision must be left up to ScotRail and Aslef to negotiate.
ScotRail and Transport Scotland have been approached for comment.