Revellers plan sober New Year celebrations
Traditional New Year hangovers are out as many revellers plan to welcome 2023 with a sober – if wet – weekend.
While Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party is a sell-out, those choosing to celebrate at home are a boon for supermarkets and off-licences who also say demand for low and non-alcoholic drinks has rocketed.
Hogmanay party organisers say the outdoor events planned this year have proved hugely popular as the public looks to bring some cheer to the end of a year of rising prices and industrial action.
However, cost of living pressures and rail strikes will impact on some plans with pubs and restaurants reporting lower demand in some parts of the country.
The Night Time Industries Association notes that bookings are significantly lower than before the pandemic.
On the other hand, Waitrose reports “record-breaking” sales of sparkling wine, while demand for low and non-alcoholic drinks have soared.
Wine buyer at the chain Jamie Matthewson, said it was clear that many people wanted to see in the new year without a hangover.
“Sales of our low and no-alcohol drinks are up by a third in the past week. Low and alcohol-free wines are seeing the biggest increase, with demand up 46%,” he told The Times.
Michael Kill, the chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said uncertainty about public transport amid strikes had made many people choose not to book nights out.
He said: “Industrial action and inflation have decimated the festive trade across the night-time economy,” he said.
Wet weather is also making people re-think their plans. The Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh, which is resuming after a two-year absence, is likely to be a damp affair with a 70% chance of rain at midnight.
Flights from Edinburgh Airport were disrupted last night after the River Almond at Gogarburn burst its banks. Water encroached on the runway causing significant delays to flights.
Following flooding yesterday, ScotRail confirmed services were resuming as water levels recede but it urged anyone planning to travel to check the app and social media for updates.
While rail services will operate this weekend, more strikes will disrupt the service next week.
The RMT union announced its members at Network Rail will take strike action on Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4, Friday 6, and Saturday 7 January, across the Great Britain railway network resulting from a pay dispute with the track and infrastructure operator.
Many of the Network Rail staff that are due to take part in the planned industrial action occupy safety-critical roles and, as such, it will not be possible for ScotRail to run the vast majority of services.
On strike days, this means the train operator will run services on 12 routes across the central belt, Fife, and the Borders between 07.30 and 18.30.
The routes and frequency of service which 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
The train operator is warning customers that the final services will depart well before 18.30, so customers should plan ahead and ensure they know when their last train will depart.
Due to the greater reliance on manual signalling outside the Central Belt, Network Rail is unable to facilitate passenger services on any other routes on the strike days. Signal boxes are key pieces of Network Rail infrastructure located across the rail network that control train movements. Their use is critical to ensure that the railway can operate safely.
Additionally, on the non-strike day Thursday, 5 January, the same limited timetable will be in operation. It is hoped that some additional routes can be added, but customers should check the website and journey planner for details before they travel.
The train operator has updated its retail systems to reflect the impact of strike action. Customers are also advised to visit www.scotrail.co.uk/strike for more information.
The important messages for customers are:
– There will be no service except on 12 ScotRail routes across the central belt, Fife, and Borders on strike days.
– For the routes on which will operate a service, including on Thursday, 5 January, customers should only travel if they really need to and should consider alternative options where possible.
Customers are advised to check the ScotRail app or visit scotrail.co.uk for the latest information before travelling.