By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie has blasted the Scottish Government for leaving train passengers in the lurch as cancellations have started to impact on local people, days before an emergency timetable comes into force.
On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that 1,000 trains would be slashed, 700 from the weekday timetable and weekend services would be reduced to two thirds of the normal timetable.
The changes are due to come into effect on Monday for an indefinite period, but the Dumbarton constituency MSP has already been contacted by a number of constituents who have been impacted by cancellations on services from Helensburgh.
One woman reported being crammed into a carriage on the 7.55am service from Helensburgh Central to Glasgow Queen Street this morning as the two subsequent trains were cancelled.
The emergency timetable will see the last departure from Balloch on a weekday at 7.43pm and the last train to Balloch will be the 7.45pm service from Airdrie which calls at Dumbarton Central at 8.54pm.
Helensburgh Central Station where many services have been cancelled.
In Helensburgh, the last departure is at 8.02pm with many early services being cancelled. The last train for the return journey from Glasgow to Helensburgh is at 10.17pm, but one constituent who works late in the city centre and doesn’t drive would have to spend up to £100 on a taxi to get home, which is unaffordable.
The MSP, pictured right, said: “This is absolutely appalling that, just weeks into public ownership of ScotRail, the timetable has been cut back so much that travelling by train is no longer an option for them.
“As services are being plunged into chaos and workers treated with contempt, the SNP are nowhere to be seen.
“It is utterly shameless for ScotRail to try and pin the blame for their own failures on dedicated frontline workers, who have gone above and beyond to paper over the cracks created by years of failed leadership.
“People in West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh have faced years of misery on the railways with station skipping, cramped services and cancellations, and this is yet another blow which degrades people’s trust in public transport.
“It is the opposite of what should be happening as we try and encourage people to travel more sustainably.
“It speaks volumes that just a couple of hours after this announcement, I have already been contacted by constituents struggling to make journeys which are essential.
“I have asked ScotRail to put on replacement bus services to help for those who would experience severe difficulty with their travel arrangements.
“The SNP must take responsibility for fixing this mess – they have already cut services and failed to employ enough staff. Passengers are now stuck with services they can’t rely on to get them where they need to be and there is no deadline as to when this will be resolved.”