TRAIN users are being warned of rail “chaos” at the weekend due to industrial action in a dispute over managers being forced to fill in for ScotRail driver shortages.

It came as ScotRail issued an apology after dozens of train services were cancelled on Friday after two train drivers called in sick “at short notice”.

It later emerged that at least 33 services had already been pulled throughout Saturday affecting travellers going in and out of Glasgow and Edinburgh due to “a shortage of train crew”.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) union say many of Friday's cancellations were due to their industrial action and warned of more to come over the weekend because ScotRail will run out of drivers.

READ MORE: How cancelling fewer than 4% of trains caused transport chaos

Services are expected to be in high demand especially before the first Old Firm derby of the season at Ibrox at noon on Sunday.

It comes as the Met Office issued a yellow warning of heavy rain covering most of the west of Scotland till 3pm on Saturday which could hit train and bus services. It also warned that homes and businesses could be flooded. 

The union claimed there were reports this morning that two shifts by train drivers in Edinburgh remained uncovered leading to cancellations, while there was further disruption due to another 'turn' suffering the same fate.

HeraldScotland: Crush on Edinburgh train last weekend

TSSA members began their walkout a matter of days before angry passengers vent their anger over major disruptions to services to and from Edinburgh and Glasgow and complaints over hundreds of festival goers and rugby supporters being stranded last weekend.

The row is over ScotRail compelling 50 Driver Team Managers (DTMs) to drive trains to cover for absences - and the union warned that it is potentially a safety issue because they are not doing their jobs in line managing and ensuring the competency of drivers.

The industrial action, which began on August 22, has seen DTMs on work-to-rule meaning they will not cover drivers shifts.

Liz Warren-Corney of the TSSA warned: "It is going to be chaos this weekend because ScotRail is dependent on DTMs covering driver shifts over weekends, particularly Sunday because drivers don't tend to do Sundays.

READ MORE: Herald View: An urgent need to get ScotRail back on track

"So as with last Saturday we saw it biting with the Edinburgh Festival and the Scotland rugby international, it is going to be the same this weekend because there are more shifts not covered. Our guys aren't doing it and ScotRail haven't got enough staff."

ScotRail sources say that driver team managers have been out "supporting" on Friday and that they will "continue to support" as they train new recruits.


The union said that the disruption from last weekend was in part caused by the industrial dispute.

It claimed it was down to the policy Dutch transport company Abellio, which runs ScotRail, of running staff down "to the bare minimum" and expecting to be able to cover left the service vulnerable to any industrial action and spikes of demand.

At 4pm on Friday there were 14 live cancellations due to the train driver "illness". Services affected included the key Edinburgh to Glasgow link, Edinburgh to Dunblane, and Glasgow to Dunblane, Stirling and Cumbernauld.

Later it emerged at least 50 services more services mainly in and out of Glasgow and Edinburgh were cancelled due to "a shortage of train crew".

The union leader, Manuel Cortes called on transport secretary Michael Matheson to call an "urgent inquiry" into how ScotRail is run.

READ MORE: How ScotRail's bid to create 'best railway Scotland has ever had' remains off track

“These cancellations aren't down to acts of God," he said. "It's ScotRail's ongoing incompetence which is to blame as they simply haven't recruited enough train drivers.

"It's also clear that our Train Driver Managers’ refusal to drive trains is hurting. Our union remains willing to meet ScotRail any time, any place, anywhere to resolve this dispute.

"ScotRail's incompetence has gone on for far too long and Scottish rail passengers deserve far better than this."

TSSA say they would suspend industrial action, and help get ScotRail trains moving again as soon as Abellio give a cast-iron guarantee that DTMs will not be forced to drive trains.

A ScotRail spokesperson did not comment on the warning for the weekend but said: “We’re sorry to customers who have been affected by a small number of cancellations today.

“If your journey has been delayed by 30 minutes or more, you are entitled to compensation through our Delay Repay Guarantee. Just keep hold of your ticket and claim on our website or mobile app.”


A remedial agreement reached with Transport Scotland, after a raft of cancellations after the launch of the winter timetable, outlined the recruitment of more frontline staff, with an extra 55 drivers and 30 conductors being hired during 2019.

READ MORE: Analysis - Why is ScotRail’s flagship route among its worst performing?

ScotRail say this recruitment will result a "significantly higher" number of drivers than at the start of 2018. The union say the DTMs were only supposed to be called in for emergencies but claim that since being brought in at the beginning of July, they had been driving on average three shifts a week.

Driver Team Managers’ duties include training drivers, passing them out, monitoring newly qualified drivers, investigating operational incidents such as not stopping at stations or passing signals at danger, and recovering drivers who have been involved in fatalities.

The union say that overtime taking on extra driving duties will reduce the number of drivers being trained, monitored and supported.