85% fall in travellers
ScotRail axes 20% of services as passenger numbers slump
Fewer trains will be running across Scotland (pic: Terry Murden)
ScotRail is to axe almost 20% of its services from next month following a sharp fall in passengers using the trains.
Stay at home workers have seen passenger numbers fall by 85% compared to last year and those who are travelling are switching from the peak morning and evening “rush hours” to other times of the day.
Edinburgh-Glasgow trains will run every half hour instead of every 15 minutes.
Announcing the changes from Sunday, 13 December, ScotRail said that about 81% of the normal timetable will operate.
Some services are being removed “following a significant reduction in passenger demand” it said. ScotRail said this level of service will more than meet demand over the coming months.
“With the number of customers travelling on Scotland’s Railway currently down by around 85% 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 changes will also “help to ensure enhanced resilience for staffing levels”, following the impact of restrictions on the training of drivers and conductors, though it did not say if this would impact on jobs.
“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,” it said.
Ahead of the main timetable change, there will be some changes made to services from Monday, 30 November, with a reduction in the frequency of trains travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Services will operate every half hour compared to the standard 15 minutes.
Customers are reminded to check their journey before travel to see which services are affected by the changes, and are also reminded that there will be alterations to the times of some remaining services.
Rail fares in England are due to rise by 1.6% in January and will apply to most regulated fares in Scotland.
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.”