RAIL passengers will next week see more services return after it was announced a reduced timetable brought in during a driver dispute would come to an end.

From Wednesday, July 20 ScotRail, which was nationalised by the Scottish Government in April, will reintroduce its timetable back to levels in May and comes just days after the pay dispute was resolved.

Members of the drivers’ union ASLEF voted to accept the improved pay offer earlier this week.

The train drivers union ASLEF says that their members have voted to accept the improved offer from nationalised ScotRail which amounts to up to 10% extra in pay packets in a year.

While they welcomed the boost for travellers, Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF Scotland Organiser said: "Going forward, we will continue to hold ScotRail to account to ensure they train and employ enough drivers to run the service that the Scottish people pay for, deserve and expect.”

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However, it comes after weeks of disruption for commuters and those attending events including TRNSMT and gigs at Hampden where travellers were left with no services when gigs ended.

HeraldScotland: TRNSMT festival-goers were affected by reduced train servicesTRNSMT festival-goers were affected by reduced train services

Audiences at TRNSMT music festival in Glasgow on Sunday were told they would miss last trains home if they stayed to watch headliner Lewis Capaldi.

While visitors to the 150th Open Championship which is underway in St Andrews were urged to avoid rail travel this week.

And now commuters face being affected by further UK-wide action. Further dates have been announced for a nationwide train strike as workers at Network Rail and 14 train operators are to walk out in August. 

Members of Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on August 18 and 20. 

The union previously confirmed industrial action will also take place on July 27.

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Today's announcement brings an end to the temporary timetable that has been in place since 23 May and means almost 700 services per day will be added for customers.

The temporary timetable had been introduced due to the impact of a significant number of drivers declining to make themselves available for overtime or rest day working, as they are entitled to do, during the pay dispute.

HeraldScotland: Full train timetables will return on July 20Full train timetables will return on July 20
ScotRail said it had relied on drivers working overtime or on their rest days. In 2019 and is committed to employing more drivers to phase out the reliance on this practice.

It said the pandemic meant that driver training was significantly delayed. Without Covid, ScotRail would have around 130 extra qualified drivers by now. That would have significantly reduced our need for drivers to work overtime and rest days.

With progress made in pay negotiations, the union put the pay offer to members with a recommendation to accept. This recommendation led to members voting to accept, and ScotRail was notified of the results on Monday, 11 July.

Scotrail said work is now in progress to ensure that the timetable can be fully restored, with train planning staff working flat out to carry out the changes required for the near 700 services to be reintroduced. This includes scheduling the movement of trains to where they need to be, with rosters for general grade staff and schedules for drivers being altered. The train operator said that as part of this it is also managing some increases in Covid-related absences following the recent surge in infections across the country.

With events scheduled throughout the country in the coming weeks and months, including the Edinburgh Festival, it is a welcome boost for commuters and event-goers.

David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said: “We are delighted to be able to reintroduce the timetable, adding almost 700 services each day, and delivering the service that our customers expect and deserve.

“It has been a very challenging few months, impacting those across the country who rely on rail travel and on our staff too.

“It is a big step forward to reach such a positive resolution and continue in our efforts to provide the safest, greenest, and most reliable railway we can.

"We thank customers for their patience through this period.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Graham Simpson said: “The economic damage of the SNP’s timetable cuts, just as businesses were trying to get back on their feet, cannot be understated – not to mention the inconvenience to people’s daily lives.
“But with further strikes already announced for later this month, the chaos on our railways looks far from over. 
 “The Nationalists’ takeover of ScotRail has got off to the worst possible start and the resumption of ScotRail services cannot make ministers complacent. The SNP are now fully in charge of railway services in Scotland and the buck stops with them over its successes or failures.”