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Sturgeon challenged to take the train to hear passengers’ views on service cuts

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged to travel on ScotRail trains and hear direct from passengers about the impact of service cuts (Robert Perry/PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged to travel on ScotRail trains and hear direct from passengers about the impact of service cuts (Robert Perry/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged to travel on Scotland’s trains and hear from ordinary passengers about the impact of cuts to services.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said rather than flying to the US – where the First Minister has been on a working trip this week – she should instead be “travelling with passengers across Scotland hearing how these SNP/Green rail cuts will impact on their families, work and travel plans”.

His comments came after bosses at publicly-owned ScotRail introduced a new temporary timetable which cut about a third of services.

It comes into effect from Monday as an ongoing pay dispute with train drivers’ union Aslef has seen drivers decline to work overtime or rest days.

The service reductions come just weeks after ScotRail was taken into public ownership by the Scottish Government in what ministers hailed as an “historic” move.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The promise to passengers of a stronger, greener rail network is in tatters just 47 days after the SNP/Green Government took it over.

“For all their talk about the climate emergency and the importance of public transport, they have just made it much harder to leave the car at home.

“Green voters especially will be dismayed by this betrayal.

“The Government announced that they would take over ScotRail two years ago but neglected to come up with a better plan than abolishing a third of the timetable. It beggars belief.

“Nicola Sturgeon jetted off to America to spend days talking about independence and to tastelessly claim the war in Ukraine strengthens the case for separation.

“I think people would rather she spent days travelling with passengers across Scotland hearing how these SNP/Green rail cuts will impact on their families, work and travel plans.

Alex Cole-Hamilton challenged the First Minister to travel on the trains herself to experience the disruption (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

“Running the railways means taking responsibility for the hard decisions and doing the hard graft of planning.

“The First Minister can’t turn up for the photo opportunities but be nowhere to be seen when passengers are packed on to trains like sardines, or worse still not have any train at all.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson confirmed services will be “reduced to around 67% of the planned May 2022 timetable”, with the situation kept “under review to ensure that, as far as possible, passenger requirements are met”.

They said: “The difficult decision to revise the service timetable was made because of the level of disruption caused over the last two weekends by many drivers choosing not to work their rest days.”

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth has said the revised timetable will give passengers a “more stable and reliable service”.