Mid Scotland MSP Murdo Fraser has said “brutal” cuts to rail services will have a “massive impact” on constituents and the night-time economy in the region.
The Scottish Conservative politician was reacting to the ScotRail temporary timetable, which came into effect on Monday, and will see 694 weekday trains axed across the country due to failed pay negotiations with train drivers.
The changed timetable means that rail passengers returning from a day out in Edinburgh will have to board a train at 8pm to get home to Mid Scotland and Fife.
Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “Many of us were sceptical when we heard that the SNP Government would be taking over the running of our rail network and it hasn’t taken long to prove we were right. The situation now is an utter shambles and we have the prospect of chaos on the rails until next year.
“These brutal cuts to rail services will have a massive impact on many of my constituents along with the night-time economy in Mid Scotland and Fife. The changed timetable means the last train back from Edinburgh to Fife and Perthshire is at 8pm, which is ridiculous. I’ve already been contacted by irate constituents, including one who had enjoyed visiting friends in the Capital and going to the theatre or having a meal at a restaurant. They will now be faced with the farcical situation of curtailing their night out.
“There are also a lot of people that live in Perth and work in Dundee, who will now be faced with the last train home boarding just after 9pm.”
Mr Fraser continued: “Many of my constituents previously had to endure a poor rail service, particularly those living in Fife, due to late or cancelled trains, along with overcrowding, and now they will have to contend with this shoddy service rolled out by the SNP. In addition, the night-time economy in Mid Scotland and Fife will be devastated due to folk having to scramble to get early trains home. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Night-Time Industries Association Scotland are among several bodies who have slated the rail cuts.
“This should be a time when the SNP Government is encouraging people to use public transport, due to soaring fuel prices for motorists and the SNP’s hated Car Park Tax. Instead, rail commuters in Mid Scotland and Fife and beyond, are being punished for the SNP’s failure to deal with this horrendous situation, and with some commuters now being forced to use the car, it will do nothing to help tackle climate change and meet the desired targets.
“I will be raising my concerns on the issue at the Scottish Parliament with a General Question on Thursday, May 26, when I will ask the SNP Government what impact driver shortages will have on the availability of rail services for passengers in Mid Scotland and Fife.”
A changed timetable for weekend rail services has not been announced yet.