Helensburgh Central Station. New timetable after New Year. Picture by Joe Porter
By Bill Heaney
Does the SNP Transport Minister plan to keep the timetable cuts when ScotRail is nationalised in the New Year, Tory MSP Graham Simpson asked in the Scottish Parliament today.
SNP MSP Graeme Dey told him: “This [nationalisation] is a gain of 100 services over the present timetable. Timetables evolve, as Mr Simpson knows.
“The whole point of this is to gradually build back and, in doing so, to recognise the emerging travel patterns that we will see as people’s return-to-work arrangements and leisure activities become more apparent.
“This is a baseline from which we can build and align the services with the needs of the travelling public.”
He added: “The proposed timetable would operate 100 services more than the current pandemic timetable, which responded to changed travel patterns.
“ScotRail is of the view that the vast majority of customers will find either that there is no change to their current service or that their service improves, with a more regular interval between services, and so more trains being set.
“However, I recognise that there are some localised concerns about the proposed timetable. I encourage the public and members of Parliament to make their views known through the consultation.”
But Tory Mark Ruskell disagreed: “ScotRail’s proposed new timetable will result in some unacceptable cuts in services and extensions to journey times.
“I have been actively encouraging residents to share their views with ScotRail as part of the consultation. Later this month, I will host a meeting with constituents to better understand how those changes will impact them.
“Does the minister agree that any significant changes in rail services must be made only after real and meaningful consultation with rail users?
“Does he agree that ScotRail should accept my invitation to meet rail users, to ensure that their voices are heard?”
Mr Dey replied: “Yes, I would encourage ScotRail to engage. As I think that I have said before, I have never seen draft proposals contained in a consultation that are flawless or could not be improved on.
“Timetables are complex creatures. When you revisit them, it is not as simple as restoring or tweaking component parts. That is why it is important that everyone engages in the consultation.”