Strike action set to cause rail chaos

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union officials including Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary (second left) take part in a demonstration outside ScotRail HQ in Glasgow, as members of the rail union are demanding talks in the Guards dispute. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 20, 2016. RMT claimed ScotRail was refusing to meet at the conciliation service Acas. See PA story INDUSTRY ScotRail. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union officials including Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary (second left) take part in a demonstration outside ScotRail HQ in Glasgow, as members of the rail union are demanding talks in the Guards dispute. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 20, 2016. RMT claimed ScotRail was refusing to meet at the conciliation service Acas. See PA story INDUSTRY ScotRail. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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Commuters across Scotland are facing a day of travel chaos today with the first in a series of planned strikes set to bring much of the nation’s rail network to a standstill.

Over two dozen key routes will be subject to cancelled or reduced services, throwing travel plans into disarray. Some services will terminate at the peak of rush hour, meaning workers will need to make alternative arrangements to find their way home.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are due to stage a series of walkouts in the coming weeks, starting with today’s 24-hour strike.

According to ScotRail’s website, services on at least 16 routes will be cancelled, of which only three are expected to have replacement bus services in place.

Barring a last-minute deal, the cancelled services include busy commuter routes, such as Edinburgh to North Berwick/Dunbar, Glasgow Queen Street to Stirling and Dunblane, and Glasgow Central to Edinburgh via Shotts.

Scotrail has advised passengers that “it is most unlikely” that it will be able to source buses for routes other than those from Glasgow Queen Street to Oban/Fort William/Mallaig, Aberdeen to Inverness, and Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh/Wick.

A host of other routes will be operating on a reduced frequency. They include the Edinburgh to Fife Circle route, which will be hourly.

The first service begins at 6.37am, but there is not another for more than two hours, when it departs Edinburgh Waverley at 8.40am. In the evening, those looking to get home from the capital this evening face a rush for the last train, which leaves at 5.52pm. The last service from Waverley to Glasgow Queen Street, meanwhile, is at 7.30pm.

Other routes from the capital with reduced services include trains to Perth/Inverness, Dundee, Dunblane and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High. ScotRail said it is “putting plans in place to run as many trains as possible” and has advised passengers to check its website for updates to help plan their journey.

Talks aimed at avoiding the strikes in a row over driver-only trains failed yesterday. ScotRail and the RMT union met at conciliation service Acas, but no deal was reached.

It comes the firm’s managing director, Phil Verster, denied “sabotaging” talks. The RMT claimed ScotRail was refusing to meet at Acas, but Mr Verster said the claims were a ­“mystery”.