THOUSANDS of commuters on the east coast will face overcrowding and slower journeys because carriages are being sent to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, it has emerged.
The North Berwick line through East Lothian will be the worst affected of 12 across the central belt as ScotRail struggles to find enough carriages to cope with an expected one million extra Games passengers.
Fife and Stirlingshire connections with the capital will also be hit.
The train operator will run shorter trains on nearly 150 services a day to provide sufficient seats to transport spectators to venues, with longer and later trains on some lines.
There will be fewer carriages on some trains on eight lines into Glasgow, even though they are likely to be used by Games ticket holders. Affected passengers who are not heading to events are being urged to consider taking a different train.
ScotRail is also having to hire at least two extra trains from operators south of the Border to run its biggest-ever timetable from 21 July to 3 August.
Passengers on the Edinburgh-North Berwick route are faced with fewer seats and the journey will take up to three minutes longer. This is because four-coach electric trains on the line will be replaced with older, three-coach diesels for two weeks, which have 99 fewer seats and poorer acceleration. The move will also affect ScotRail trains on the Edinburgh Dunbar line.
Campaigners said the move could cause overcrowding at rush hour.
Tom Thorburn, chairman of the Rail Action Group East of Scotland, said: “We have reservations that the peak-time services will cope. In return for being the ‘sacrificial lamb’ in losing our trains, we would like to think we will enjoy some of the additional late services, to help people in East Lothian get home from the Games.”
Other routes to be affected include Edinburgh to Glenrothes and Dunblane, where up to 17 trains a day will be shorter than normal. Some trains will also be shortened on routes between Glasgow and Ayr, Gourock, Largs, Ardrossan, Paisley Canal, East Kilbride and Neilston, and on a secondary Glasgow-Edinburgh route via Shotts.
ScotRail said the carriages were needed to run more trains within Glasgow “to ensure enough are available within the city to meet visitors’ demands”.
It will double the number of carriages on trains between Glasgow Central and Mount Florida for Hampden Park, where athletics events will be held.
Trains on a cross-city line via Queen Street will be more than doubled in length between Scotstounhill, near Scotstoun stadium in the west, and Carntyne, near the Tollcross international swimming centre in the east.
Services on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line will be doubled to every 15 minutes in the evenings, with many of them twice as long as normal. There will also be more carriages on another route between the cities, via Bathgate and Airdrie. Later trains will also run, some after 1am.
Watchdog Passenger Focus manager Robert Samson said: “Passengers on existing routes which will have less capacity than normal require as much information as possible to make informed decisions regarding their journey options.”
ScotRail stressed the “vast majority” of its trains would operate as normal.
ScotRail Commonwealth Games project manager Andy Miller said: “We appreciate the understanding of our customers who will see a reduction in carriages on a small number of services for a fortnight this summer.”