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ScotRail ‘could take 10 days to restore services if drivers accept new pay deal’

(Jane Barlow/PA)
(Jane Barlow/PA)

ScotRail bosses have warned passengers that the temporary timetable which slashed services could have to stay in place for up to 10 days if drivers accept an improved pay deal.

The newly nationalised rail operator said it could take as long as that to restore full services.

However ScotRail service delivery director David Simpson stressed that what happens next depends on drivers.

Talks on Thursday between the operator and drivers union Aslef resulted in an improved pay offer of 4.2%.

A pay dispute resulted in drivers refusing to work on rest days or on Sundays, leading to short-notice cancellations before the introduction of the temporary timetable on Monday.

Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay confirmed the improved pay offer, made after hours of negotiation between the union and the rail operator, will be put to members in a ballot.

Mr Simpson said the offer “addresses the cost-of-living issues raised during the talks” as he urged train drivers to consider it carefully.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland the new deal “recognises the cost of living” but also “recognises the need for more flexibility” in how drivers are rostered.

Mr Simpson said: “The 2% which we added yesterday reflects the need for rail workers to be more flexible as we come out of the pandemic and adjust timetables more often than before in response to customer demand.

“What we are trying to do is reach a solution that gets the trains back to normal, restores the timetables, allows ScotRail and the railway to support other keyworkers, other parts of the economy, by running a full timetable as reliably and efficiently as possible over the coming weeks and months.”

Asked how quickly services could be restored after the temporary timetable slashed hundreds across Scotland, Mr Simpson said that would depend “very much” on the outcome of the ballot.

He added: “It is up to 10 days to restore the full timetable. It is a complex process, it involves other parts of the industry changing rosters and so forth.

“We would aim to do that as quickly as possible but it could be up to 10 days to get fully back to normal, but we will work as hard as possible to do that.”

He added that ScotRail is reviewing its temporary timetable, with more late-night services added for Friday and Saturday.

ScotRail is also looking at services on Wednesday, when the Scotland men’s football team take on Ukraine in a crunch qualifier for the World Cup later this year.

Mr Simpson said the rail operator is “trying to be as flexible as possible until we can get the full timetable back”.