ScotRail timetable change: Edinburgh arts and theatre venues concerned over reduced timetable

Theatres and entertainment venues in Edinburgh have called on ScotRail to increase train services at weekends in order to protect the city’s arts and culture industry.

The operator’s new temporary timetable will mean that train users who visit Edinburgh must now leave the capital earlier, with some trains departing the city for the final time as early as 7:40pm.

The revised schedule comes after a dispute between ScotRail and worker unions RMT and Aslef regarding pay and overtime and it is the latest hurdle for Edinburgh’s nighttime economy to overcome.

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Graham Main, executive director at Summerhall in Newington, said those in the industry hoped to see the operator prioritise weekend services.

Fewer trains to and from Edinburgh could see a reduction bookings for theatres across the capital.

"It is vital that our nation is able to take part in the re-emergence of live performance and culture, irrespective of where they live in Scotland,” he said.

“Whilst we appreciate the practical challenges of the economic recovery, we hope to see a greater effort placed on maximising economic benefit by at least increasing transport links at weekends.”

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Mr Main added: “We all need to pull together this year to safeguard Scotland's outstanding live music, theatre and arts industries."

The Edinburgh Cultural Venues Group (ECVG), which is made up of eight leading arts and cultural organisations, has also criticised ScotRail’s timetable and said the lack of access to arts venues would be detrimental to an industry that “contributes hugely to the local economy”.

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Chair Ken Hay said: "Edinburgh is a world class and vibrant cultural city. Our theatres, concert halls, cinemas and other venues attract thousands of people from across Scotland and beyond every day.

“We are reliant on audiences being able to travel easily to and from Edinburgh from across Scotland. Anything which excludes people from accessing our events will damage not just the cultural sector, but the wider night-time economy of the city.”

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He added: “This is another blow for the city’s cultural venues as we continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”

Mr Hay’s comments were supported by all ECVG consortium members alongside the Leith Theatre, Dance Base and the Edinburgh Playhouse.

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Last week David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, apologised for the disruption to train services stating they, “remain open to further talks with the trade unions”, adding that a reduced timetable will create “certainty and reliability”.