NEWLY-NATIONALISED ScotRail has seen around 70 services disrupted on top of services being cut in half by an emergency timetable in advance of a rail strike starting on Tuesday that is set to crippled the network.

There were nearly 50 cancellations yesterday due to a shortage of staff caused by a continuing ScotRail pay dispute involving train drivers.

This was on top of the slashed emergency timetable introduced on May 9 to "give greater certainty" to the travelling public.

Around 20 other service were also curtailed on Sunday by either reducing the number of stops or cutting the number of carriages due to the driver shortages.

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon came under fire for taking to Twitter to slam the UK Government over next week's separately crippling Network Rail rail strike - despite presiding over six weeks of travel turmoil in the drivers dispute.

The train drivers union Aslef is putting a pay offer which together with bonuses amounts to an up to 10% pay rise to its members having recommended that it be backed.

The initial flat 5% offer  is much higher than for many in the public sector and is recommended for acceptance by the union’s entire negotiating team.

Around 2.8% of that was to come from ScotRail itself, while an additional 2.2% would come from Transport Scotland.

Emergency timetables remain in place across the country, but later trains on several major routes were introduced from Monday in a bid to ease pressure on passengers.

Because drivers are continuing to work to rule, while they consider whether to accept the pay deal, services continued to be hit on an already severely curtailed timetable.

Drivers have been are refusing to work overtime or on rest days including Sundays - essential to keep Scotland's trains running - during the dispute.

ScotRail has warned travellers to use trains only if they have to as railways are set to be crippled by a separate UK-wide rail strike starting on Tuesday.

A summer of discontent is being predicted by unions as increasing number of public sector workers are being balloted for strike action in continuing discontent over staff cuts and below-inflation pay rises.

ScotRail has warned many as nine out of ten services will be lost as up to 50,000 staff from the train infrastructure owners Network Rail are due to walk out on a three-day strike described as the biggest outbreak of industrial action involving rail services in a generation.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) are due to strike on Tuesday, 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.

The nationalised service brough in an emergency timetable and cut a third of weekdays services from the timetable from mid-May due to a lack of drivers - while an average of 120 a day were cancelled during the previous 15 days of rail chaos with problems blamed on an industrial dispute over pay.

Sunday services were cut by around a half.

Aslef has previously said that ScotRail had gone to far with cutting services and that some drivers have been sitting around doing nothing.

The Aslef pay dispute surrounds train drivers who having completed all training and a probation period are being paid some £52,000 per year – a rise of £3,640 (7.5%) in the past three years. Three years ago, the pre-nationalised service was paying £48,360 to qualified drivers.

The RMT union confirmed on Saturday that the nationwide Network Rail action will go ahead after talks failed to resolve a row over pay, jobs and conditions.

In response to a report that UK ministers are "blocking" pay talks, the First Minister tweeted: "The rail strikes that will affect [Scotland] next week are not the result of a ScotRail dispute. It is a UK wide dispute with UK gov reserved Network Rail and other train operating companies. So it is v concerning to read that UK ministers are blocking fair pay negotiations."

But critics were swift to point out the turmoil caused by the continue drivers dispute within ScotRail which was nationalised on April 1.

Scots Tory chief whip Stephen Kerr tweeted: "The rail issues affecting Scotrail at the moment, however, are the result of your Government's failures."

Another traveller told the First Minister: "Of course it's not the Scottish government's fault nothing ever is."

Tens of thousands of Ed Sheeran fans at Hampden on Thursday and Friday nights were the latest to be hit by the disruption while the hospitality sector has registered its concern over continued cancellations.