SWINGEING cuts to ScotRail services are beginning to bite as a new reduced timetable came into force today.

The new timetable has been introduced to bolster the “reliability” of services, which have been subject to frequent delays and cancellations because of a shortage of train drivers.

The National took to two of Scotland’s busiest railway stations to find out how passengers felt about the cuts.

READ MORE: ScotRail service cuts will ‘absolutely not’ last until next summer, says Jenny Gilruth

Shona Black (below), 45 and David Holmes, 60 were left “furious” after they were unable to go on a planned cycling trip to the West Coast because of the reduced service to Oban.

The National:

Black, who is partially sighted, rides tandem with Holmes but only select services can accommodate their extra-long bicycle.

She told The National they had a hotel booked in the coastal town and had travelled from Musselburgh, East Lothian to Glasgow Queen Street on Monday morning to make the trip.

Black said: “The attitude has been absolutely appalling, the customer service has been absolutely appalling, they’ve left us hanging around from an hour and a half.

“We’re gutted, we were supposed to be in Tobermory tonight, we had accommodation booked and everything.”

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Holmes (below) added: “It’s a sign of how bad ScotRail are.”

The National:

They claimed no one had informed them prior to travelling on Monday that their train had been cancelled.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Rice (below), 70, was travelling from Glasgow to her hometown of Montrose, Angus after spending the weekend in the city for her birthday.

The National:

Not knowing about the timetable change, she was forced to spend an hour waiting on the next train.

She told The National: “If you’re up at the station, you’re not wanting to wait for an extra hour.”

She said train drivers – who are seeking a pay rise of 10%, just higher than the current inflation rate – “deserve” better wages.

The average driver earns around £50,000 per year withput overtime. 

READ MORE: ScotRail’s reduced timetable begins amid driver dispute

“There’s money somewhere and it’s being used for different things but it’s not going to the right people,” Rice added.

Council officer Fiona Corbet (below) was at Glasgow Central Station – the country’s busiest – on Monday afternoon.

The National:

The 55-year-old said: “I stay in Motherwell but sometimes I do have to come into Glasgow for work and I would use the train for work, so I might have to leave a lot earlier to meet the appointment times in Glasgow.

“I do a lot of walking as well and I sometimes walk up towards Lanark and then coming back I get on the train at Carluke but it could be one an hour now.”

Jonathan Engles runs a brewery in Glasgow but travels to work in Edinburgh regularly, something that will be hampered by the service cuts.

The 46-year-old told The National: “I work in the drinks industry and it’s not very good for trade.

The National:

“It’s going to be really detrimental, isn’t it? You can’t go out to Edinburgh for an evening if you won’t be able to get back, or vice versa.

“It’s disappointing, the [hospitality industry] has had a really tough time over the last couple of years and we really don’t need this.”

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The last train to Edinburgh from Glasgow on the slow line via Airdrie and Bathgate departs at 8.53pm Monday to Friday. The fast train, which travels through Falkirk High, leaves Edinburgh at 10.15pm on weekdays.

The last train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen leaves the capital at 6.40pm Monday to Friday. The last train between Inverness and Aberdeen leaves the Highland city at 6.05pm.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth has defended the timetable changes – which cuts around a third of services – as providing more certainty to services, as services were increasingly being delayed or cancelled because of staff shortages.

Drivers are in short supply, the minister said, because not enough were taken on for training at the usual rate during the pandemic, creating a significant shortfall in numbers.

The service was being supported by drivers working overtime, including on rest days, but rail union Aslef encouraged their members to reject overtime as part of a pay dispute.

Their members are being balloted for industrial action over a pay offer the union described as “derisory” in light of soaring inflation.

Gilruth has said the disruption will “absolutely not” last until next year – though no end date has yet been given for the current “temporary” timetable.