Scotrail situation is going off the rails says Finlay
Massive cuts to train services will have a significant effect on the local economy Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson MSP has warned.
Scotrail axed nearly a third of services last week due to a shortage of drivers amid a pay dispute, reducing Stranraer to just four trains a day.
This is even less than the five journeys in the planned new May timetable (down from eight) that was previously criticised.
Trade union Aslef described a pay offer of 2.2 per cent and participation in a shares scheme was “derisory” and refused to rule out further action – meaning the situation could drag on for months.
Mr Carson fears the changes will wreak havoc on commuters, the hospitality sector and the economy including a potential knock-on effect at the ports at Cairnryan.
He said: “The whole situation is a complete nightmare and the real fear is that it could last many months. In fact, there is a danger it could drag on into next year.
“I have already been contacted by one business in the hospitality sector who have had a booking cancelled already because people simply cannot get here.
“It is an absolute fiasco and the Scottish Government - who only nationalised the train operator seven weeks ago – need to getting all sides around the table and thrashing out a resolution.
“The approach by the Scottish Government, to date, has been lacklustre to say the least. Commuters are going to suffer badly with this reduced level of service while many businesses are going to be hit.
“It is almost akin to another lockdown where people will be forced to stay at home because they will be scared they won’t be a train to get home.
“This is yet another blow inflicted to Stranraer as it faces some of the hardest cuts, alongside the failure to invest in roads like the A75 and A77, and the previous council administration making little or no progress on a public transport hub for the town.”
Mr Carson has previously actively campaigned to increase rail services in the south west having raised the issue on numerous occasions at Holyrood.
Earlier this year he met with the then Scottish Transport Minister Graeme Dey to put forward a strong case.
Mr Carson said: “In May 2020 there were eight daily departures from Stranraer
which was not enough even then. That was going to be slashed to just five under a new timetable being introduced this month – now it is going to be four.
“This is a government committed to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead – how can the general public honestly trust them when ScotRail has axed 700 train journeys?
“Yes, they claim it is a temporary measure, but in all likelihood it will last many months, if not into next year before the situation changes.”