A Perth theatre director has compared ScotRail’s timetable to a ‘pantomime’ after abandoning his commute to Glasgow.
Ken Alexander, 58, lives in the Fair City and works freelance brings musicals and pantomimes to the stage.
But after trying to get to work under ScotRail’s temporary timetable, he says the theatricals are on the tracks.
“It’s certainly getting close to pantomime.”
Journey time is ‘extraordinary’
Ken is currently based at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, where he is working on a new musical.
His usual train is not running under the temporary timetable.
So he either has to take a train from Perth at 6.43am, which gets him in far too early, or a train which gives him barely enough time to sprint to the theatre.
“I’ve ended up actually staying in Glasgow for the week, rather than do the round trip every day.
“I decided that I just wanted to focus on my work and I didn’t want to do that commute.
“Especially with trains being cancelled left, right and centre.”
In addition, he says the trip, which used to take around an hour, is now longer.
“The way the timetable has been reconstructed, the trip’s now an hour and 20 minutes from Perth to Glasgow.
“It’s extraordinary because it’s only 60 miles.”
How has ScotRail got it wrong?
ScotRail is currently in a trade union wrangle over drivers’ pay.
Drivers are digging their heels in over ScotRail’s 2.2% pay offer, refusing to work on rest days.
But the recently nationalised operator has been relying on the goodwill of drivers willing to step in and work overtime.
ScotRail bosses have now introduced a reduced timetable which they say is aimed at providing “customers with a level of certainty and reliability”.
But Ken says it has done the opposite.
“I think the way the current situation has been handled is utterly chaotic.
“Whoever has been managing it really hasn’t taken into consideration the needs of people who use trains regularly.
“The structure of the timetable is actually working against us instead of with us.”
Going to a show? You might be better to take the car
Ken says the ScotRail timetable restrictions will inevitably hit theatre lovers in Perth and Dundee.
“A lot of people travel from towns like Perth and Dundee to the bigger cities to see the shows that don’t tour.
“And they quite often go by train because it’s more convenient.
“The timetable has now been reconstructed so you can’t get back to Perth after about 8 o’clock in the evening.
“That means you have to rule it out or go by car, or by bus, of find some other arrangement.
“It’s chaotic from my point of view.”
Ken’s work takes him across the country and he travels by train frequently.
So do the actors he works with.
“There are a couple of actors that we’re having to release slightly early each day in order for them to get home to their families.
“That wouldn’t normally be the case.
“So it is having an impact on our work.”
ScotRail’s service delivery director David Simpson has apologised to customers and said he shares their frustration.
“In order to provide a robust timetable with the limited number of available train drivers, we’ve had to make some very difficult decisions and this has meant we’ve been unable to provide a full day’s service across every route.
“We want to resolve this dispute with ASLEF and move forward together to provide the safest, greenest, and most reliable railway we can for Scotland.”