NATIONALISED ScotRail is having to cancel nine in ten of its usual services as the nation's railway which is already on an emergency timetable is further crippled by a UK-wide strike next week.

ScotRail and cross border train operators have issued warnings to rail users as up to 50,000 staff are due to walk out on a three-day strike described as the biggest outbreak of industrial action in the industry in a generation.

It comes as public sector unrest over pay discussions hit new heights with NHS workers in Scotland being consulted informally about possible strike action after union leaders insisted a 5% pay rise being offered is "simply not good enough".

There has been a growing backlash from public sector workers after ministers agreed a "breakthrough" up to 10% pay deal in a separate ScotRail dispute with train drivers union Aslef which led to emergency timetable cuts of to up to half of daily services since the start of last month.

It has emerged that the emergency timetable introduced on May 8 is expected to be in place for at least another month, as the Aslef deal is being put to members and the result will not be known till July 11.

Police officers also moved a step closer to industrial action yesterday after being treated with what the Scottish Police Federation described as “utter contempt” over pay negotiations.

And there is the prospect of thousands of Scots local authority workers from cleaners and binmen to care workers and school staff going on strike this summer in pay disputes as three key unions Unison, GMB and Unite prepare for strike ballots over a 2.2% offer.


Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are due to strike on June 21, 23 and 25, 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 will mean just 180 journeys across just five central belt routes will be running when ScotRail usually operates around 2,150 daily services.

The train operator, which was nationalised on April 1, is currently running a reduced timetable of about 1,500 services due to the Aslef pay dispute.

It will also hit cross-border services, with operators running some trains on the east coast and west coast mainlines. The last train in the key London to Edinburgh link will be 2pm.

Disruption will also be felt on the network in the days following the action as signal boxes are reopened, particularly outside the central belt.

RMT members from Network Rail Scotland and cross-border train operators LNER, CrossCounty, Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express will be taking part in the industrial action.

On the strike days ScotRail will only run trains on the routes from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk High; Edinburgh to Bathgate; Glasgow to Hamilton/Larkhall; Glasgow to Lanark; Edinburgh to Glasgow via Shotts.

Rail lines will only be open between 07:30 and 18:30, and ScotRail says the last trains will depart well before 18.30. Information for passengers will be available on its website.

Meanwhile, Avanti West Coast – which runs services between Glasgow and London Euston – said it would only operate about a quarter of a typical timetable on June 21 and June 23, increasing to about a third of services on June 25.

The RMT 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.

Network Rail insisted no proposals were on the table, talks were under way about modernising maintenance and how compulsory redundancies could be avoided. It rejected claims it would do anything to compromise safety.

The strikes fall during major events including The Eagles at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, the Royal Highland Show, Biffy Clyro at the Royal Highland Centre, and a Barry Manilow concert at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow.

ScotRail has already warned that the existing emergency timetable will hit today’s and tomorrow’s Ed Sheeran gigs at Hampden.

Fans face a disrupted journey back to Central and Queen Street Stations, with no rail services from Hampden’s nearest station, Mount Florida after the gig and limited onward routes available thereafter.

Network Rail Scotland’s route director Liam Sumpter said: “We understand the disruption this strike will cause and apologise to passengers for the impact on their journeys.

“We are continuing talks with our trade unions to seek a compromise that would avoid this damaging strike action.”

Phil Whittingham, director of Avanti West Coast, said the strike action would “cause untold misery for customers.

“We’re strongly advising customers to only travel where absolutely necessary on our route on strike days and instead make their journeys on alternative days or claim a full refund.”

The RMT has said it is open to meaningful negotiations, and that its members have been subject to pay freezes, threats to jobs and attacks on their terms and conditions.

General secretary Mick Lynch said workers had been treated “appallingly”.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Talks have not progressed as far as I had hoped and so we must prepare for a needless national rail strike and the damaging impact it will have.

“We, and our train operating colleagues, are gearing up to run the best service we can for passengers and freight users next week despite the actions of the RMT.

HeraldScotland: People walking past a ScotRail train

“We will keep talking to try and find a compromise that could avert this hugely damaging strike but make no mistake, the level of service we will be able to offer will be significantly compromised and passengers need to take that into account and to plan ahead and only travel if it’s really necessary to do so.”

Mr Haines said Network Rail was looking to cut between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs, insisting it could be achieved through voluntary means, particularly that a “significant” number of employees were over the age of 60.

Network Rail wanted to introduce changes to working practices linked to technologies such as using drones to check tracks and infrastructure, which the company says would be safer than having workers on the tracks, as well as more cost effective.

David Simpson, ScotRail’s service delivery director, said: “It is very unfortunate to see such widespread disruption across the whole of the Great Britain rail network and we know this will be frustrating for ScotRail customers.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons that the rail strikes were “entirely pointless” and “counterproductive”.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the transport secretary had not held a single meeting with unions and the industry for over two months to prevent the strikes going ahead.

She told the Commons: “No one in the country wants these strikes to go ahead. As we have heard, they will be a disaster for workers, passengers, the economy, and the rail industry. But the good news is that at this stage, they are not inevitable, and the dispute can still be resolved.”

The warning of disruption comes as would ballot its members over the 5% pay deal they have been offered.

If accepted, it could end a dispute that resulted in ScotRail having to cut more than 700 services from its timetable.

Kevin Lindsay, the Scottish regional organiser for the union, said: “Following a meeting of Aslef’s national executive committee today, it has been agreed that the package of pay and conditions improvements negotiated between the union and ScotRail will be put to all members in a ballot. The executive is recommending members accept the deal.

“Aslef is a democratic, lay, member-led union, therefore it is right that the train drivers of Scotland decide whether or not to accept this offer.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We welcome Aslef’s national executive’s recognition of the very good offer, an offer which is in part self-funded through increased revenue and roster flexibilities, and also that they will now take this to their members with a recommendation to accept.”