ScotRail has ‘plans in place’ for Scotland v Ukraine World Cup tie – Jenny Gilruth

Scotland fans have been told there are “plans in place” for travel to next week’s crucial men’s football World Cup tie against Ukraine after late trains to and from Hampden were halted by major ScotRail timetable cuts.

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 4:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 7:34 pm

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth also told MSPs on Wednesday she expected to get an update "in a matter of days" about a number of the train operator’s other axed services being restored.

ScotRail said it would announce details of its plans for the Hampden game “as soon as we can”.

Tens of thousands of football fans are due to head for the stadium in Glasgow on Wednesday, June 1 for one of the national team’s most important matches in 20 years.

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Many Scotland fans travel to Scotland games at Hampden from Glasgow Central Station. Picture: John Devlin

However, on Monday ScotRail indefinitely cut one third of its services to provide “certainty” to passengers due to a shortage of drivers after most stopped volunteering for overtime following rejection of a 2.2 per cent pay offer.

Despite this, dozens more services were cancelled, amended or operated with fewer than the normal number of carriages on Tuesday, which ScotRail said was due to sickness and insufficient drivers being available for shunting trains into position.

In response to a question from Conservative North East MSP Tess White on whether alternative transport arrangements would be in place for travelling fans, Ms Gilruth said she "understands" the concerns from supporters.

She said: "This is, of course, Scotland's most important game in a long time and we really want to ensure that supporters can get to and from the match on public transport using, where possible, our bus services across Scotland.

"I would note though, before this timetable was introduced, the last train from Glasgow to Aberdeen would have been at 21:40, meaning it still would not have returned people home to Aberdeen after the match.

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"ScotRail is aware of the various large cultural and sporting events across the summer and the impact the reduced timetable might have on them.

"It's currently being reflected by ScotRail in terms of how they will address that."

Ms Gilruth said she had been assured "plans are in place and they will publicise details of this in due course, as they do will all major events".

Responding to concern from Scottish Greens transport spokesperson Mark Ruskell about some routes being disproportionately affected by the timetable cuts, Ms Gilruth said: “I’ve raised this matter with ScotRail and I will be happy to provide the member with an update regarding the restoration of a number of services, which I hope will be coming in a matter of days”.

ScotRail said there were “ongoing discussions” over timetable revisions and “whatever can be achieved will be achieved”.

Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie told Ms Gilruth that Scotland would suffer "humiliation" if the services were not resolved in time for the 150th Open Championship being held in St Andrews in July.

The minister said since the event was still some months away, she hoped "to reach a resolution" with the unions before the historic golf event, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which runs from August 5 to 29.

Festivals Edinburgh director Julia Amour said: “Anything that disrupts people getting to and from our festivals would obviously be a major concern, so we hope that all parties can work towards an amicable agreement before summer arrives.”