EVERY one of us who used to regularly take the train can attest to the diligence of the staff working on Scotland’s railways. Always courteous, they work hard in the face of some terrible abuse from passengers who blame the nearest staff member for the train being late, which is not a rare occurrence.

At the start of the pandemic, the Scottish Government signed an emergency motion which took the entire network into public hands so the taxpayer now pays the wages to ensure the trains keep on running.

It was a sensible move and ensured every one of the 5,200 Scotrail staff were kept on full pay with none even being placed on furlough, despite a 95% drop in passenger numbers at the pandemic’s height.

No-one could begrudge them that and it cushioned Scotrail staff from the economic misery caused by Covid that has seen millions lose their jobs, take pay cuts or work less hours for less pay.

After all, we need a fully operational rail network when everyone returns to work in offices and people start travelling again, whenever that may be.

But rail unions have rather blotted the copybook by insisting that rather than accept that staff have emerged unscathed, they actually deserve a pay rise.

Not only that, they are threatening to strike unless all the staff get one.

Scotland’s rail network is currently being upgraded at a cost of billions of pounds to ensure it is fit for the 21st century.

Unfortunately, the unions are stuck in the 1970s like the blue British Rail rolling stock now consigned to transport museums.

Any other business that has seen an overall 80% fall in business over the past 10 months would be in administration now and staff made redundant.

But because the public is paying, Scotrail is unaffected and rightly so, however that hasn’t stopped the unions from reverting to type and playing fast and loose with taxpayers’ cash.

For a union that rails against private profiteering and corporate greed it is also a little hypocritical.

No-one would begrudge the staff a pay rise in normal circumstances, but demanding one in the midst of an economic crisis is not a good look.

I’d like to see the unions look the millions of newly unemployed in the eye and ask them what they think of it.

I suspect the reply would end in off and rhyme with duck.