ScotRail warns of travel disruption due to strikes

Train passengers have been warned to expect significant disruption this week as rail workers take further strike action in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The RMT union has announced its members at Network Rail will take strike action on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

The dispute does not involve ScotRail staff but will have a major impact on the train operator’s ability to provide services as many of the Network Rail workers walking out occupy safety-critical roles.

On strike days, and on the non-strike day of Thursday January 5, ScotRail will run services on 12 routes across the central belt, Fife, and the Borders between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

It comes after RMT members took strike action over Christmas which affected ScotRail services, with no trains from early evening on Christmas Eve until December 27.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “It’s really disappointing to see more widespread disruption across the whole Great Britain rail network as a result of the dispute between Network Rail and the RMT at a time when we need to be encouraging more people back to the railway.

“For ScotRail, it’s going to mean that we won’t be able to operate the vast majority of our services between 3 and 7 January, which we know will be really frustrating for our customers.

“We’re advising customers to seek alternative means of transport and to only travel if they really need to on the days of strike action.

“Customers should check their entire journey in advance to make sure their train is running.”

ScotRail said that in addition to the strike action, there continues to be disruption to some services due to the severe rainfall over recent days, with more heavy rain expected on Tuesday overnight into Wednesday.

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It advised customers to check the ScotRail app or visit www.scotrail.co.uk for all the latest information before travelling.

ScotRail said the routes and frequency of service that will be in operation on the four strike days are:

Edinburgh Waverley – Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High: two trains per hour
Edinburgh Waverley – Helensburgh Central: two trains per hour
Glasgow Central – Hamilton/Larkhall: two trains per hour
Glasgow Central – Lanark: two trains per hour
Edinburgh Waverley – Glasgow Central via Shotts: one train per hour
Edinburgh Waverley – Cowdenbeath: two trains per hour
Edinburgh Waverley – Tweedbank: two trains per hour
Edinburgh Waverley – North Berwick: one train per hour
Edinburgh Waverley – Larbert: one train per hour
Glasgow Queen Street – Larbert: one train per hour
Glasgow Queen Street – Falkirk Grahamston: one train per hour
Milngavie – Springburn: two trains per hour

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, has accused the UK Government of blocking a deal to end the long running dispute.

He says he is willing to negotiate, but is calling for an offer on pay, jobs and conditions his members can vote on.

The RMT is campaigning against plans to close ticket offices, cut jobs and move the industry to widespread driver-only operation.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Passengers have rightly had enough of rail strikes and want the disruption to end.

“The Government has demonstrated it is being reasonable and stands ready to facilitate a resolution to rail disputes. It’s time the unions came to the table and played their part as well.

“Inflation-matching pay increases for all public sector workers would cost everyone more in the long-term – worsening debt, fuelling inflation and costing every household an extra £1,000.

“Unions should step back from this strike action so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute.”

Liam Sumpter, route director for Network Rail Scotland, said: “We understand the impact this strike will have and we are working hard to keep as many passengers as possible moving during the next phase of RMT industrial action.

“We remain committed to working with the RMT to find a solution to this dispute, but we also need to agree a deal that is fair on the taxpayers who fund our railway.”