More than 300 ScotRail Sunday services cancelled

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Scotrail trainImage source, PA Media

More than 300 ScotRail services have been cancelled for the third Sunday in a row due the ongoing shortage of drivers.

The disruption comes on the eve of major timetable cuts which will see 700 daily services cut across the country.

Hundreds of trains have been cancelled since 8 May when many drivers opted not to work overtime.

Drivers' union Aslef is balloting members for strike action after rejecting a 2.2% pay offer.

The RMT union has also announced it is holding a strike ballot over pay.

Opposition politicians have criticised the deadlock which comes after a Scottish government owned company took over the running of ScotRail last month.

The previous operator Abellio had its franchise ended early amid criticism of the quality of the service.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said the temporary timetable, which will be introduced on Monday, would see a reduction in service but provide customers with "a level of certainty and reliability".

He added: "In order to provide a robust timetable with the limited number of available train drivers, we've had to make some very difficult decisions and this has meant we've been unable to provide a full day's service across every route. We will review the service levels and make any improvements we can as quickly as possible.

"We're sorry to our customers for the disruption they've faced, and we share their frustration."

Mr Simpson said the operator wanted to resolve the dispute and remained open to further talks with the trade unions.

ScotRail's original May 2022 timetable had approximately 2,150 weekday services, but from Monday this will be reduced temporarily by a third to 1,456.

The Aslef union accused the Scottish government of "industrial vandalism" over the cuts.

The operator has been relying on drivers working extra hours, following delays in training new staff during the Covid pandemic.

But the decision by many not to work overtime or on rest days means the last train on many routes will now depart before 20:00.

The Night Time Industries Association Scotland said the new timetable was "another cruel blow" for the sector coming so soon after the pandemic.

ScotRail last train times. .  Timetable changes from Monday 23 May, 2022.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week said efforts were being made to get the timetable back to normal "as quickly as possible".

However, this will depend on either a resolution to the pay row or new drivers completing their training, which is expected to take a couple of months.

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth told BBC Scotland's The Nine she expected 38 new drivers to be qualified by the end of the summer, 55 by the end of the year, and 100 by June 2023.

She had previously described the practice of rest day working as "outdated" and said the Scottish government was looking to phase it out.

Employment Minister Richard Lochhead told the BBC's The Sunday Show he hoped the dispute would be "sorted soon" - but he issued a plea for staff to be "sensible" in asking for pay rises.

Last week the RMT union, described ScotRail's 2.2% pay offer as "derisory".

General secretary Mick Lynch said: "ScotRail needs to put its hands deeper into its pockets and start rewarding their staff properly.

"We are in the midst of a brutal cost of living crisis for workers, but it is still party time for shareholders, speculators and big business executives."

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