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ScotRail cutbacks fury as Nicola Sturgeon told to apologise

First minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon admitted severe cutbacks to ScotRail services were “not acceptable” as she was heavily criticised for a slimmed-down timetable which could last for months.

Rail bosses confirmed up to 700 journeys across the country will be unavailable as they introduced an emergency timetable due to a pay dispute with drivers.

It’s a major blow for the SNP government less than two months after Ms Sturgeon celebrated taking ScotRail into public ownership.

Tory leader Douglas Ross said that nationalisation of train services had turned into a “disaster”.

Labour chief Anas Sarwar warned the Scottish Government could not shift the blame onto anyone else.

ScotRail services will be slashed temporarily.

The emergency timetable – which comes into force on Monday – means the last service between Edinburgh and Dundee will leave at 8.30pm.

Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped the situation could be resolved quickly, but admitted a review won’t be held until June 3.

It’s feared the reduced timetable could be kept in place for weeks or months if a resolution is not achieved.

Douglas Ross.

Douglas Ross urged the first minister to apologise to Scots passengers for the fiasco.

He compared the disruption to the nationalist of under-fire shipbuilding firm Ferguson Marine in 2019.

Mr Ross warned high street stores could potentially take an economic hit if shoppers are unable to reach town and city centres.

And he said commuters had already endured weeks of inconvenience due to train services regularly being cancelled.

‘No joke’

The Tory boss added: “The SNP took over running of our rail service on April’s Fool Day, but NatRail is no joke for Scotland’s passengers.”

Meanwhile, Anas Sarwar accused the government of presiding over the worst cuts to rail services in a half-century.

During his clash with the first minister, he claimed the public had been forced to “pay the price of SNP failure”.

‘More stable service’

On Wednesday, SNP transport minister Jenny Gilruth said the emergency timetable would give a “more stable and reliable service”.

Earlier ScotRail’s service delivery director David Simpson admitted a return to normal would depend on progress being made in pay talks.

The disruption to journeys has been caused by drivers refusing to work overtime on top of their standard hours.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government are committed to training up more drivers.

Tayside and Fife rail passengers hit as ScotRail announces emergency timetable

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