Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that the region faces rail chaos because of continued reduced timetables, cancellations and industrial action.

Avanti West Coast has brought in a reduced timetable which they claim is an attempt to halt the short-notice cancellations which have plagued its operations in recent weeks. The company has suspended advance ticket sales for travel until 11 September, with passengers having to check on an almost daily basis what trains will run. Services run by Transpennine Express to and from Lockerbie continue to face daily cancellations and ScotRail continue to run a timetable with fewer services than before the pandemic.

Avanti services, along with those run by Transpennine Express and ScotRail will be further reduced on Thursday 18th and Saturday 20th August due to industrial action over a pay and conditions dispute between trade unions the RMT and TSSA and Network Rail, Avanti West Coast and Tranpennine Express. There will be no direct services to Edinburgh on Saturday from Lockerbie, with Transpennine Express cancelling all trains from the station and only some Avanti Services will run to Glasgow. ScotRail services across South Scotland will be completely axed except some between the Borders and Edinburgh and Glasgow and Lanark.

Colin Smyth said: “This reduced timetable across the country from Avanti is yet another shambles from our rail firms, to add to the already poor services from ScotRail and Transpennine Express.

“Avanti has said that this move has been brought on by “unofficial strike action” by train drivers but that is complete rubbish.

“Avanti has been expecting its drivers to work on their days off to make up for the fact they have completely failed to employ enough people. Rather than pay people properly to attract staff, they have run a railway system based entirely on people having to work on their day off and that is completely unsustainable.

“Avanti services at Lockerbie are already woeful with just a few trains a day. Passengers will be worried that the chaotic way the company are making up their timetable on an almost daily basis could affect those services in the future, in particular the unscheduled stops some Avanti services make at Lockerbie when Transpennine Services are cancelled. The company should be looking to increase services at Lockerbie, given that they run more trains through the station that don’t stop there than those which actually do.

“The latest spate of industrial action will mean across South Scotland, Scotrail services – except some to the Borders – and Transpennine will be pretty much axed and only a limited services will be provided by Avanti.  Passengers across our region are simply giving up hope when it comes to using our trains. I speak to people on an almost daily basis who have gone back to using the car whenever they travel to Edinburgh for example, because they do not trust rail companies to do the one thing they are paid a lot of taxpayers money to do –  run trains.

“It is shocking that the UK Government are sitting back and doing nothing to get people round the table to resolve these industrial disputes and also hold the rail firms to account for the shocking services they provide the rest of the time.”

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