NATIONALISED ScotRail has warned that train services will be disrupted for the rest of the week as UK-wide strike action begins by Network Rail staff.

It comes as Scots stations were left deserted as a result of the first day of the strike, leaving some buses packed and commuter traffic queues on the M8.

It comes as Boris Johnson prepared the public to be braced for more chaos on the railways as he stressed the need for modernisation and reform in the industry.

He warned commuters they must be ready to "stay the course" and urged rail bosses and unions to agree on a package to safeguard the future of the industry.

Only five routes were remaining in service today, the first day of a three-day strike. All are in the central belt of Scotland and the last train will depart well before 6.30pm.

This morning, Glasgow Queen Street and Glasgow Central stations were quiet with just a handful of passengers waiting for trains.

The strike is also hitting cross-border services. Only around 20% of services are running with services operating on the five routes between 7.30am and 6.30pm on each of the strike days.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are to strike on today, on Thursday and Saturday in an ongoing UK-wide dispute with Network Rail -which owns the UK's rail tracks, stations and signals – over plans to axe hundreds of critical maintenance jobs.

It's the biggest outbreak of industrial action in the industry in a generation.

It comes as an emergency timetable which has cut services by up to half due to staff shortages remains in place across the Scottish network in a separate ScotRail dispute over pay with the train drivers union Aslef. A pay offer is due to be put to drivers.

Drivers were engulfed in traffic chaos on Tuesday morning, as a a crash led to the closure of two eastbound lanes of the M8.

Emergency crews were called to the motorway around Junction 29 of the M8 after they were alerted to the collision at 7.30am this morning.

Officers said a car had collided with a motorcycle around 7.30am this morning.

One person was taken to Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley.

The road reopened after 8.20am this morning.

Traffic Scotland confirmed drivers expected delays as they travel through the city due to the crash.

They warned motorists there could be tailbacks of upwards of 15 minutes during this morning's rush hour.

The union says Network Rail is planning to cut at least 2,500 safety critical maintenance jobs as part of a £2 billion reduction in spending, including hundreds north of the Border.

Meanwhile, workers have been subject to pay freezes and changes to their terms and conditions.

ScotRail has warned people that disruption caused by the RMT strike will continue until Sunday.

That is because on the days following strike action signal boxes - critical to ensure that the railway can operate safely - will be re-opening at different times throughout the day.

"While Network Rail’s large signalling centres in the Central Belt will be able to operate from 07.15, this will not be the case at signal boxes elsewhere and it may well be later in the day before many routes are able to operate as normal. This is particularly the case for routes beyond the Central Belt," said ScotRail, which was nationalised on April 1.

ScotRail urged anyone travelling on Scotland’s Railway to check their journey in advance to see if their train is running. For example, the first service from Dundee to Aberdeen is at 11.18am This compares to a normal timetable of 07:22am.

The disruption caused by strike action will impact customers travelling to events such as The Eagles at Murrayfield on Wednesday, the four-day7 Royal Highland Show which opens on Thursday, Biffy Clyro at Ingliston on Saturday and Liam Gallagher at Hampden Park on Sunday.

ScotRail said it will be issuing specific travel advice for each event.

ScotRail said: "The strike does not involve ScotRail staff, however, does have a major knock-on effect on the train operator’s ability to provide services as the planned action involves Network Rail staff in Scotland who are members of RMT.

"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."

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “Regrettably, the disruption caused by the RMT Network Rail strike action extends to the days following strike action as well. This is due to Network Rail signal boxes across Scotland’s Railway opening at different times throughout the day.

“This means, for some routes, it may be later in the day before we’re able to operate services as normal.

“I’d encourage anyone planning to travel on the railway on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, to check their journey in advance to see if their train is running, and on days of strike action to only travel if they really need to on the five routes where services are operating.”

The rail operator is running two trains per hour on the Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk High line, the Edinburgh-Bathgate line, the Glasgow to Hamilton/Larkhall line and the Glasgow to Lanark line.

One train an hour will run on the Edinburgh to Glasgow via Shotts service.

Passengers were warned last week by ScotRail to only travel on the limited services “if they really need to”.

It is understood that staff at ScotRail will be expected to attend their usual place of work on the days strike action is planned.

The operator said employees will be “deployed for other duties”, including training and staff briefings, where appropriate.

Gordon Martin, RMT regional organiser for Scotland, said the strike is the last resort for members, and said the union is looking for a “meaningful offer” to resolve the dispute.

He said: “This is not the first option, this is the last resort for our members.

“It’s a fight that we didn’t want, this is a defensive action by this trade union, but it will be until we get a reasonable settlement and the members have made that abundantly clear to me and others.

“This is a defensive measure by our members in defence of their jobs, their terms and conditions and, I would argue, the safety of the rail industry.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the RMT is “militant” and needs to get back around the negotiating table.

He said: “What the RMT has to do is stop being so militant, and get back around the table and get the country moving again.”

Mr Simpson was asked why he called for Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth to get involved in the dispute between Aslef and ScotRail, but not her UK counterpart, Grant Shapps.

He said: “It’s different because it’s not just Network Rail.

“As I said earlier, there are 13 train companies involved. So it’s very, very complicated.”

Nick King, a spokesman for Network Rail in Scotland, said a modernised railway could improve its pay offer for staff by passing on savings.

He said the strike could be resolved if the union moved its position on working practices and any reduction in staff would take place on a voluntary basis.

Mr King said: “The dispute is not going to be solved through strike action. It’s not going to be solved on a picket line.

“It’s going to be solved by negotiations in a room, and negotiations have been taking place for 18 months now on this issue.

“We feel that there are clear ways in which we could modernise and change the way we currently operate and that would then enable us to free up savings that we could then use to fund a pay rise.”

Experts in the retail sector have issued warnings over the potential negative impact the limited services will have on Scotland’s shopper footfall figures, which were down by 16% on pre-pandemic levels in May.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers in Scotland’s city centres were clobbered by the exodus of commuters during the pandemic.

“Even now, several months on from the end of restrictions and store visits are still shy of pre-Covid levels, with Scotland rooted to the bottom of the UK league table for shopper footfall last month.

“Many stores are only just beginning to emerge from the long and destabilising impact of the pandemic, and further train disruption could deter shoppers and derail retail’s recovery.”