ScotRail has confirmed that ongoing train driver unavailability will force it to reduce the number of trains in the timetable on Sundays, starting this weekend, Sunday 5 July. At this stage only Sunday train services are affected.
While ScotRail will run fewer trains on a Sunday, most of those trains will have more carriages and, in so doing, provide almost the same capacity on every route as is offered by the current services. ScotRail will also operate bus services to enable important connections with ferry services.
The final timetable will be published on Thursday 2 July, but ScotRail is asking customers to take action now so that they can plan ahead for the weekend. A dedicated webpage has been set up at www.scotrail.co.uk/sundays where all temporary timetables will be published alongside any other relevant information.
The reason for the unavailability of train drivers is that Sunday rail services in Scotland are partly dependent on voluntary cover being provided by train drivers. The number of train drivers volunteering for Sunday work has declined steeply in recent days due to ongoing pay negotiations, resulting in a reduction of trains on Sundays.
ScotRail has tabled an offer which would see train drivers receive a 2.5% pay rise and, in addition, a one-off £500 bonus payment for ensuring that Sunday services are covered. Added together, this amounts to a 3.7% offer for 2015-16. This offer has not been accepted yet.
ScotRail has also proposed a solution to the volunteering on Sundays issue by committing to create up to 100 more jobs in Scotland for new train drivers – almost an extra 10% increase in current train driver numbers. This will mean that Sunday train services are robust in the future and not dependent on train drivers’ volunteering.
Phil Verster, Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance said:
“We have inherited a business that runs a seven day railway with a system of staff rostering that covers only six days. Our customers want the same level of service right throughout the week, so we have to make changes and improve our railway. We cannot expect our train drivers to volunteer for so many Sundays when our rosters should reflect a modern, seven-day railway for Scotland.
“We have made an offer to our train drivers that would see them get more pay, have less weekend working and have a better work/life balance. Our further commitment to employ up to 100 new train drivers will make our Sunday services robust.
“I sincerely hope we can reach an agreement with our train drivers and our unions on this proposal. A 3.7% total pay offer is substantial and our commitment to make Sundays a part of the working week modernises our railway and is a significant work-life balance benefit for our train drivers.
“We do not want to reduce the number of services on a Sunday or any other day. It is not a decision that we take lightly, but we must be able to give our customers certainty about which services will be running and which ones won’t.
“We really want to get the situation resolved and we remain open to discussing our proposals and options with our unions.”