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ASLEF ballot taking place over pay so new timetable laid out

By Tom Ramage

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New timetables have been published for the Highland Main Line
New timetables have been published for the Highland Main Line

From tomorrow ScotRail will introduce a temporary timetable aiming to provide greater certainty and reliability for customers.

A spokesperson explained: “This is a result of the ongoing impact of fewer train drivers than normal currently being available for overtime or rest day working, as is their contractual right, following confirmation from drivers’ union ASLEF that it will recommend to its executive committee a ballot for industrial action over pay.”

Over the past number of weeks, the train operator has been in pay discussions with the rail trade unions, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, and Unite. A formal pay offer in line with the Scottish Government’s public sector pay policy was made on Friday but it was rejected by all four trade unions.

“While ScotRail is currently recruiting 160 new drivers – the highest level ever – each year to improve resilience, some rest day working and overtime is still needed to deliver a normal timetable. This has historically been the case in the railway and is replicated in other train operators across Britain.

“Reducing the timetable temporarily will mean ScotRail is able to provide a more reliable service for customers instead of late-notice cancellations.”

The temporary timetable will see ScotRail operating around 1,660 services each day Monday to Saturday, which is nearly 200 more services than the one introduced in 2022 when there was similar disruption. The temporary timetable will also provide more than 515,000 seats each day, around twice the number of passenger journeys being made.

The Highland Main Line journeys to and from Inverness are accessible here

While the times of first or last trains on more than half of all routes will remain unchanged, there will be changes in the number of services provided during the morning and evening peak times – for example, where there are normally four trains per hour in the peak, this will reduce to a half hourly service, which is the same as the off-peak.

The temporary timetable can be viewed here

Customers are strongly advised to check their journey before travelling by using the ScotRail website or app. These systems are due to be updated by around 22.00 this evening. Timetables for weekend travel are due to be in systems on Thursday evening.

Refunds are available to customers for booked journeys which are affected by the temporary timetable with no additional admin fee. Alternatively, customers can use their tickets to travel on an alternative service, or the day before or two days after their planned journey.

The train operator remains fully committed to further talks to reach agreement on a pay offer that delivers value for the taxpayer and a fair pay increase for ScotRail employees.

Mark Ilderton, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said: “We are very sorry to customers for the disruption to services. We know that customers want certainty and reliability, which is why we are introducing a temporary timetable, in place of late-notice cancellations.

“We are operating services which the vast majority of customers use and are still using all the available trains in our fleet so customers can continue to travel.

“We want to resolve the pay dispute with the trade unions and remain fully committed to further discussions.

“We’re asking customers to check their journey on our website or mobile app, as train times will have changed.”

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