ScotRail's reduced timetable will impact hospitality trade says Edinburgh bar owner

Concerns have been raised by Edinburgh business owners in the hospitality sector following ScotRail’s announcement that late night trains will discontinue at the beginning of next week.

ScotRail revealed yesterday that their new “temporary” timetable will mean some visitors to Edinburgh who travel by train will have to call it an early night when they visit the capital, with some trains departing the city as early as 8pm.

As many bars and restaurants begin to recover from the pandemic, some traders fear that they will lose customers from Fife and Glasgow, with last trains to those locations departing Edinburgh at 8pm and 10:15pm respectively.

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Daniel McNally, Owner of the Scotsman’s Lounge explained that his pub on Cockburn Street often acts as a last port of call for customers who get the train home and described the news as, “another kick in the teeth for the hospitality sector.”

Andrew Lawrence, President of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said earlier train departures will: "inevitably lead to people leaving our pubs earlier."

He said: “It would be a bad loss of trade and times are tough enough at the minute – we’re still trying to fight back.”

Mr McNally added: “We do get a lot of people popping into the Scotsman because they know it’s a five minute walk to the train station, so it’s probably going to reduce the number of people that come into the bar later at night. If people aren’t able to get home they probably won’t come through.”

Hallie McDonald, Duty Manager of the Black Bull on the Grassmarket said that a reduced timetable would have a “major” affect on business.

She said: “It’s not a lot of locals that drink here, it’s mostly people from abroad and neighbouring cities so we’ll probably see a cut in takings that we get on weekends."

Deputy Manager at the Black Bull, Hallie McDonald, said the new timetable will affect trade at the Grassmarket bar and, "put people off coming altogether."

Ms McDonald added: “It’ll cut the amount of visiting Scottish customers because they can’t stay late and it’ll just put people off coming altogether.”

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Another city centre bar manager who didn’t give his name said: “I can see this having a knock-on affect on us. If people have to go home at ten o’clock at night and we’re staying open until midnight then I think we could struggle.”

In response to ScotRail’s new timetable, the President of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Andrew Lawrence, said: “As an industry we rely a lot on public transport to ensure both our customers and staff can get to our venues easily and home safely.

He added: “Last trains leaving earlier from city centres will inevitably lead to people leaving our pubs earlier which, as we emerge from the pandemic and had hoped for a busy summer of trade, will be a blow to our sector, so we hope a full timetable is reintroduced as soon as possible and any impact minimised.”

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group said: “People planning a night out at a concert, or for a meal etc, will normally plan it around public transport. “What we need to know now is when this will end, when exactly are ScotRail proposing to have this issue resolved and normality restored?”

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In a statement released yesterday, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, David Simpson apologised for service disruption and added: “We want to resolve this dispute with the trade unions and move forward together. We remain open to further talks with the trade unions.”