RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch seems like an affable chap, one you could imagine enjoying a pint with as he regales you with stories from great picket lines of the past.

The ones where everyone wore woolly hats and stood round a heated brazier singing socialist anthems.

He has come into the national conscience in recent months with various TV appearances where he has skewered Tory MP’s and ever-so-smug broadcasters.

But as the tiresome rail strikes continue and cause havoc to millions of people, it is hard not to get the impression that Mr Lynch is now beginning to believe in his own hype.

He seems to have positioned himself as a modern day Arthur Scargill, locked in an ideological battle with the Tory government.

But we all know how that ended and it may do the same for the RMT.

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Although he is the darling of the left and seems to have widespread support on Twitter, the only people that matter are the long suffering rail passengers – all 97 million of us.

Our feelings on the dispute are probably far removed from the Twitterati.

Scotrail Operations Director David Simpson also seems to be a decent chap, albeit one that looks like he would spend his days off from running the railway standing on a platform at Central station jotting down the number of the 0930 from Whifflet.

This week, both men brought Scotland’s rail network to a standstill but for vastly different reasons.

Following two days of strike action, passengers could reasonably have expected a day with trains back running as normal.

But apparently not as Mr Simpson informed us that changing the timetable at such short notice was impossible so we’d have to lump it.

Presumably, like the infamous leaves on the line, they were the wrong type of strikers.

The rights and wrongs of the strike have been well documented but it is causing untold misery to the beleaguered retail and hospitality sectors at exactly the time they needed it least.

It could also put the entire future of the railway at risk, with many of Mr Lynch’s staff facing losing their jobs in future.

Passenger numbers in Scotland are the lowest in the UK with numbers only reaching 61% of pre-pandemic levels – compared to 96% in the rest of the network.

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland shows just how great the impact of COVID-19 was on rail and other modes of transport.

Scottish Transport Statistics show the number of journeys being made by public transport in Scotland fell markedly from 502 million in 2019 to 153 million in 2020.

This has not come close to being equalled since and, faced with no trains, many passengers like myself have resorted to using the bus and have found them reliable, clean and much cheaper.

This is very bad news for the railways as ticket revenues is the biggest income for the nationalised industry.

Services have already been reduced due to falling passenger numbers and if they fall any further then more will be axed.

Less services, of course, means less staff required to keep the network running so that will inevitably mean job losses.

Mr Lynch won’t take too kindly to that, but like many union bosses in the 1970’s his chickens may come home to roost.

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John Swinney yesterday also added to the potential problems by announcing plans to temporarily scrap peak fares on ScotRail as part of a £15 million six-month pilot scheme.

The Deputy First Minister announced the measure during the budget, saying it would make travelling by train “more affordable and attractive.”

The saving for commuters could be substantial. Currently, those travelling at rush hour between Glasgow and Edinburgh pay £27.60 for a return, while those going off-peak pay £14.20.

There is still little detail on the scope or the breadth of the pilot or when it will start, but it will certainly reduce much needed revenues while a significant increase in passenger numbers is unlikely .

In May, ScotRail slashed the price of all Monday to Friday Off-Peak tickets by 50% to encourage people across the country to return to Scotland’s Railway.

That move did not really work and the latest one seem like a last roll of the dice for the railway in its current form.

Once people find an alternative form of transport to get about then they rarely go back. In recent years, Scotrail has been a total shambles, so it is hardly surprising that passenger levels have dropped.

People will only put up with a consistently poor service for so long.