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Highland Line timetable change begins on Sunday


By Tom Ramage

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ScotRail is reminding customers to check their journey before travelling, to see which services are affected by timetable changes which come into effect on Sunday.

The revised schedule is part of the train operator’s strategy as it continues to provide a critical service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 81 per cent of the normal timetable will operate, with some services being removed following a significant reduction in passenger demand. ScotRail says this level of service will more than meet demand over the coming months.

The Azuma waits at Kingussie (library)
The Azuma waits at Kingussie (library)

With the number of customers travelling on Scotland’s Railway currently down by around 85 per cent compared to the same time last year, the revised timetable ensures trains run when they are needed most, while delivering better value for the taxpayer.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a clear shift away from customers travelling during the morning (07.00-09.00) and evening (16.30-18.30) peaks to other times of the day. With more people working from home or taking advantage of more flexible working hours, there has been a significant change in how people travel with ScotRail.

The timetable changes will also help to ensure enhanced resilience for staffing levels, following the impact of restrictions on the training of drivers and conductors.

The train operator has given Scotland’s students who are coming home for Christmas an early present with the offer of a 50 per cent discount on any off-peak ScotRail service until 24 December.

ScotRail is confident the anticipated demand for these tickets will not compromise the safety of passengers who observe the five rules for safer travel, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing.

At a time when businesses throughout the country are working under financial constraints, ScotRail is no different, and reducing services in a safe and controlled manner is part of that process.

Some changes have already been made to services with a reduction in the frequency of trains travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow operating every half hour compared to the standard 15 minutes.

David Simpson, ScotRail Operations Director, said:“Throughout the pandemic, everyone across Scotland’s Railway has worked tirelessly to deliver a robust and reliable timetable, with services across the country keeping key workers moving.

“This revised timetable allows us to continue delivering that reliable and vital rail service, but better reflects the reduced demand and changing nature of travel in Scotland and the need to ensure value for taxpayer money.

“Fewer people are travelling during the morning and evening peaks because of more flexible work arrangements. Our targeted approach will deliver more than enough seats to allow customers to travel safely.

“Our staff have done a fantastic job in an unprecedented environment for the rail industry. This revised timetable will mean we are better placed to manage any reduction in staff availability due to coronavirus restrictions.”


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