ScotRail's shock train timetable shake-up set to have 'devastating' impact in the Highlands
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Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has warned cuts to train services in the Highlands will force people into cars and leave some unable to travel at all.
Observers have warned that temporary cuts to about 700 ScotRail services will be devastating for many passengers and businesses.
The temporary timetable will be brought in next Monday because of a driver shortage caused by a pay dispute between ScotRail and the Aslef union.
ScotRail was taken into public ownership by Scottish ministers less than two months ago, but announced this week cuts to 700 daily services across the country.
Mr Halcro Johnston said local train users were now faced with reduced options on when they could travel, leaving the car as the only option for some and meaning local roads risked becoming even more congested.
The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “Many people who commute, or who have previously used the train to travel across the Highlands, will now have to reconsider their travel options because of these cuts by ScotRail.
"The reduced service, with the 'last train' often far earlier than previously, will mean many will have to make alternative arrangements just to get home, or simply choose not to travel at all.
"This could severely impact on workplaces, as well as on a night-time economy already trying to recovering from the pandemic. And it cuts people off from friends and family living in other parts of the country.
“It will leave many people who have to travel with no option but to use their cars, forcing folk back onto roads which can already be busy at peak times. And we're already seeing roads become busier as the summer approaches.
“At a time when fuel prices are so high, and we are trying to encourage travellers to reduce car use in favour of public transport, this latest transport failure from the SNP/Green coalition government in Edinburgh just beggars belief.
"Remarkably, they couldn't even say how long these cuts would last, raising the concern that they might not be as temporary as claimed.
"As the ferries crisis continues, and ministers renege on their promises to upgrade our trunk road network, people across the Highlands will rightly wonder how Scottish ministers have mucked things up so badly so quickly".
ScotRail’s last train times announcement has significant implications for destinations such as Inverness, Mallaig and Tain.
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