ScotRail (Proposed Timetable Changes)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 16th September 2021.

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Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

2. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what its position is on the proposed timetable changes set out by ScotRail in its fit for the future consultation. (S6O-00158)

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

As Mark Ruskell points out, ScotRail is conducting a public consultation on the proposed May 2022 timetable, which closes on 1 October. I encourage everyone with an interest to make their views known.

The proposed timetable would operate 100 services more than the current pandemic timetable, which responded to changed travel patterns. ScotRail is of the view that the vast majority of customers will find either that there is no change to their current service or that their service improves, with a more regular interval between services, and so more trains being set. However, I recognise that there are some localised concerns about the proposed timetable. I encourage the public and members of Parliament to make their views known through the consultation.

Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

ScotRail’s proposed new timetable will result in some unacceptable cuts in services and extensions to journey times that will impact people particularly in Stirling, Dunblane, Perth and Kirkcaldy. I have been actively encouraging residents to share their views with ScotRail as part of the consultation. Later this month, I will host a meeting with constituents to better understand how those changes will impact them.

Does the minister agree that any significant changes in rail services must be made only after real and meaningful consultation with rail users? Does he agree that ScotRail should accept my invitation to meet rail users, to ensure that their voices are heard?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I very much commend Mark Ruskell for the approach that he is taking to the matter and, yes, I would encourage ScotRail to engage.

As I think that I have said before, I have never seen draft proposals contained in a consultation that are flawless or could not be improved on. However, I would say gently to Mark Ruskell that timetables are complex creatures. When you revisit them, it is not as simple as restoring or tweaking component parts. He has concerns, as he has noted, about the impacts on, for example, Perth and Kirkcaldy. However, Invergowrie and Gleneagles in his region benefit greatly from the proposed changes. Unpicking some of the planned alterations could undermine those gains.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

Does the minister plan to keep the timetable cuts when ScotRail is nationalised?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

As I have pointed out, this is a gain of 100 services over the present timetable. Timetables evolve, as Mr Simpson knows. The whole point of this is to gradually build back and, in doing so, to recognise the emerging travel patterns that we will see as people’s return-to-work arrangements and leisure activities become more apparent. This is a baseline from which we can build and align the services with the needs of the travelling public.

Photo of Collette Stevenson Collette Stevenson Scottish National Party

Will the minister provide information on any benefits that would arise from the draft proposals that are being considered under the proposed timetable changes that are set out in ScotRail’s fit for the future consultation?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I have already touched on Invergowrie and Gleneagles as examples of places that would benefit from the proposals, and Dumfries is another, but I also recognise that there are areas that feel aggrieved about the proposals. That is why it is important that everyone engages in the consultation.