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Jenny Gilruth: Extra ScotRail train services are set to be announced soon

The cuts to ScotRail were made as a result of a pay dispute (Jane Barlow/PA)
The cuts to ScotRail were made as a result of a pay dispute (Jane Barlow/PA)

The announcement of extra train services could come on Thursday or Friday, Scotland’s transport minister has said.

Last week, the newly-nationalised ScotRail announced it would be cutting more than 700 services across the network as a result of a pay dispute with train driver union Aslef, resulting in staff opting not to work on Sundays or on their rest days.

But Jenny Gilruth told MSPs on Thursday she was happy that ScotRail and Aslef were beginning negotiations in earnest again, adding she believed more services would return soon.

“The other action I have taken is to ask ScotRail to look at reintroducing a number of services,” she said in response to a question from Tory MSP Graham Simpson.

“There will be more information forthcoming on that from ScotRail later today, I hope, or on Friday.”

The minister, when pushed by a heckle from Mr Simpson, said she could not say what services may be re-introduced, adding: “He is heckling me from a sedentary position, I’m not here to inform the member of additional services that ScotRail will be running, because ScotRail is the train operator, I am the transport minister.

“The member needs to recognise the differentiation between the two – I don’t drive the trains.”

She added: “I have been meeting repeatedly with ScotRail to improve the service that is being delivered, but I have to remind the member that we’re in this situation because of an industrial dispute between Aslef and ScotRail – the employer.”

Meanwhile, Deputy First Minister John Swinney was challenged on the provision of trains for fans going to and from the Scotland’s key football World Cup qualifier against Ukraine next week at Hampden.

The much-anticipated tie could book Steve Clarke’s men a place in Qatar this winter, but Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross raised concerns about transport to the Glasgow stadium as Mr Swinney stood in for Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions.

“Next week our national men’s team are playing their biggest match for over two decades, the Tartan Army will need to get to and from Hampden on ScotRail,” Mr Ross said.

“Deputy First Minister, will your Government have gotten a grip on this situation by then, and if not, when can people expect the rail service that they need?”

Mr Swinney said: “Obviously, we want to see more services in place to deal with the Ukraine match and I’m very confident that ScotRail will have in place additional services to ensure that the specific requirements of accessing Hampden will be addressed as part of that process and there will be announcements made in due course.”