ScotRail timetable change: Late-night scramble as extra trains announced after Scotland v Ukraine World Cup qualifier plans described as 'farce'

Transport leaders were accused of overseeing a “farce” as ScotRail scrambled to find extra trains for thousands of football fans ahead of Wednesday night’s World Cup clash between Scotland and Ukraine.

Monday, 30th May 2022, 9:31 pm

The operator announced on Twitter that additional late-night services had now been scheduled for after the evening match in Glasgow following fears of supporters being left stranded because of ongoing rail chaos, despite an assurance last week from a key minister that plans were already in place.

With around 60,000 fans set to descend on Hampden for the crucial play-off, critics labelled the situation on the railways a "farce".

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ScotRail announced a temporary timetable last week, cancelling 700 services and resulting in last trains across the country being brought forward.

While additional services were due to run tomorrow between Glasgow and Mount Florida, the station nearest Hampden Park stadium, final services to most of Scotland’s major cities were scheduled to leave before the game even kicked off.

However, ScotRail announced on Twitter on Monday night that it had now scheduled late-night services between Glasgow and Edinburgh and other destinations in the Central Belt.

The latest service to Edinburgh had been due to depart Glasgow Queen Street station at 10:15pm, but will now leave at 11:45pm.

Fans could be left stranded after Scotland's crucial World Cup playoff match at Hampden

ScotRail tweeted: “We said we’d do our best to put on extra late-night services for supporters going to the Scotland vs Ukraine World Cup play-off at Hampden on Wednesday and we’ve been working hard to do that. We’ve managed to schedule these extra services.”

The last trains from Glasgow to Stirling, Ayr, Gourock, East Kilbride and Neilston will also leave after 11pm.

However, many of those living outside the Central Belt would not be able to travel home by train after the match, which kicks off at 7:45pm.

The final trains to Dundee and Aberdeen will leave Glasgow Queen Street at 7:45pm on Wednesday, while the latest anyone can return to Dumfries from Glasgow Central would be 7:13pm, according to the ScotRail website.

Those hoping to head from Glasgow to Inverness will be unable to do so after 7:07pm and those wanting to return to Perth will need to make the 7:37pm service.

The newly nationalised rail operator has been hit by a pay dispute with train drivers union Aslef, which has meant staff have refused to work on their off days.

A pay deal, which would increase wages by 4.2 per cent, will be put to members by the operator in hopes of ending the dispute.

Phil Campbell, head of customer operations at ScotRail, urged supporters going to the game to plan their journeys ahead of time.

He said: “We know this is a massive match for the Scottish national team and we are looking forward to helping supporters travel to Hampden to play their part in the occasion.

“It’s also an honour to welcome Ukraine fans to Glasgow.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to support fans travelling to the game by adding additional services where we can and more seats to trains where possible.

“The temporary timetable will still be in place, so it is important that fans plan ahead to make sure they are aware of their options for both getting into the city, and for completing their journey home.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said it was a “welcome, last-minute U-turn by ScotRail”.

He said: “The Scottish Conservatives and others flagged up this problem with the Scotland game ten days ago, so this could and should have been resolved far earlier.

“Also, while the additional late services for the Central Belt are great, members of the Tartan Army who live north of Stirling still have no means of getting home by train on Wednesday night.”

A win tomorrow would see Steve Clarke’s team advance to the World Cup qualifier play-off final against Wales, just one step away from booking their place to Qatar later this year.

Meanwhile the trade union Unite said it was initiating strike ballots in all Scotland’s 32 councils in a dispute over pay.

The union said the current offer of a 2 per cent pay increase is “pathetic” in light of the current cost of living.

Unite said its ballot will open on June 10 and close on July 26, covering schools and cleansing departments.

If members vote for a strike, it could begin in August at the start of the next school term.

Unite and other trade unions have called on employers to improve the offer.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite will now ballot thousands of our members across every one of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

“The last offer on the table from the employer was a pathetic 2 per cent.

“When the broader cost of living has now hit 11.1 per cent, this is a huge pay cut and simply not acceptable when workers face punishing living costs.

“Our members are not putting up with this and they will have their union’s full support in the fight for better jobs, pay and conditions in local government.”

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer said: “Unite has served notice to all 32 local authorities that we will now ballot our members from 10 June.

“There has been some acknowledgement by Cosla [Convention of Scottish Local Authorities] that the 2 per cent offer is nowhere near good enough and local government workers deserve a significant increase.

“However, we now need action not words and more letters, or strike action is on the horizon.”

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