Edinburgh marathon runners 'at risk' of missing event due to Scotrail cuts

Marathon runners are raising concerns over how Scotrail cuts could affect this weekend’s Edinburgh Marathon Festival with restricted services in operation.

By Anna Bryan
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 7:09 pm

ScotRail cut its services by one third at the start of this week, due to cancellations caused by a drivers’ pay dispute. However, the rail operator has not yet released a weekend schedule for trains, which has left many runners worried over how they will travel to the event.

One runner tagged Scotrail in a Tweet, writing: “It’s the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday 29th May with thousands of people descending on Musselburgh. Event websites say not to take your car and use the train or buses instead. Should you not prioritise a timetable for this event? Will buses have capacity for extras?”

Another said: “Only train from Inverkeithing to Edinburgh is 0830 - going to be cutting it fine for the 1000 start and I imagine it’ll be rammed. Piss poor.”

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Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton echoed the concerns of runners, and told the Herald: "People have trained for months to be Edinburgh marathon ready and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in sponsorship. It would be atrocious for them to be denied their big moment by rail cancellations.

“The city is not set up for thousands of additional people looking to get parked close to the start line.”

The Edinburgh Marathon, which is the second largest marathon in the UK, usually brings 35,000 runners, as well as a crowd of spectators, to the city.

ScotRail's reduced timetable has been hit by further cancellations due to staffing issues.

Several events will be held over the weekend, including several kids races, a 5k run, a half marathon and a full marathon.

The marathon is the first event to be affected by the new timetable, and there is concern that other upcoming occasions could also be hit by the cuts.

On Sunday, the RMT union said it will “deliberately target” the Edinburgh festivals with strike action and warned that an ongoing pay dispute could turn the Scottish capital into a “ghost town” in August.

Mr Cole-Hamilton continued: "Ministers and rail bosses are still unable to give any indication how long these cancellations will last so it's not just the marathon which is at risk, but all of the city's major upcoming events including the Edinburgh festival.

Thousands are set to descend upon the Capital for the Edinburgh Marathon this weekend, however, there is concern that some runners will struggle to travel to the event, due to Scotrail cuts.

"These cancellations are a blow for business, a challenge for commuters and another bitter blow for Scotland's environmental credentials."

David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said: “The temporary timetable only came into operation yesterday and it’s not possible to say how long it will be in place.

“We’re keen to resolve the dispute as soon as possible and the timetable will operate for as long as it needs to in order to provide a dependable service to our customers.

“There will be a review of the timetable and if we’re able to return it back to normal, or make improvements, we’ll make sure we advise customers through our usual channels, the website, our mobile app, and social media.

“We’re sorry to our customers for the disruption they’ve faced, and we share their frustration.”