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ScotRail warns Ross-shire customers of significant disruption during the RMT Network Rail strike action with just five services running in the central belt


By Ian Duncan

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Rail travellers.
Rail travellers.

Due to strike action by RMT members of Network Rail, ScotRail is warning customers in the Highlands to expect significant disruption starting this week.

Network Rail strike action will take place on Wednesday, July 27, Thursday, August 18 and Saturday, August 20.

This means a very limited number of services will operate on just five ScotRail routes in the central belt, with no service on all other routes.

The RMT union announced three days of strike action across Great Britain's railway network resulting from a pay dispute with Network Rail.

This dispute does not involve ScotRail staff, however, it will have a major knock-on effect on the train operator’s ability to provide services as the RMT planned action will involve Network Rail staff in Scotland.

Many of the Network Rail staff that are due to take part in the planned industrial action occupy safety-critical roles and, as such, it will not be possible for ScotRail to run the vast majority of services.

For more information on this, please visit the National Rail website at National Rail Enquiries - Industrial Action.

The important messages for customers are:

• There will be no service on all but five ScotRail routes in the central belt;

• For the routes on which we will operate a service, customers should only travel if they really need to and should consider alternative options where possible.

The railway will only be operational between 07.30 and 18.30 on July 27, August 18, and August 20. The below services will run on these days:

• Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High: two trains per hour;

• Edinburgh – Bathgate: two trains per hour;

• Glasgow – Hamilton/Larkhall: two trains per hour;

• Glasgow – Lanark: two trains per hour;

• Edinburgh – Glasgow via Shotts: one train per hour.

Final services will depart well before 18.30, so customers should plan ahead to ensure they know when their last train will run.

Due to the greater reliance on manual signalling outside the central belt, Network Rail is unable to facilitate passenger services on any other routes on the strike days.

Disruption to ScotRail services will not be confined to the days of strike action themselves but will also affect the day before (Tuesday, 26 July) and the days following them – Thursday, 28 July, Friday, 19 August, and Sunday, 21 August.

On Tuesday, July 26, there will be a small number of trains cancelled. This is to allow trains to be moved into the right position, as on most routes, trains cannot be moved again until 07.15 on Thursday, 28 July. By taking action on the Tuesday evening, it will help to ensure that as many passenger trains can operate on Thursday morning.

On the days following strike action, there will be disruption caused by the reopening of signal boxes at different times across the country. Signal boxes are key pieces of infrastructure located across the rail network that control train movements. Their use is critical to ensure that the railway can operate safely.

While many workstations at the larger signalling centres will be able to operate from 07.15, this will not be the case for them all or for manual boxes elsewhere, and it may well be later in the day before many routes are able to operate as normal. This is particularly the case for routes out with the central belt.

Customers are advised to check the ScotRail app or visit the ScotRail website for the latest information before travelling.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “It is very unfortunate to see such widespread disruption across the whole of the Great Britain rail network and we know this will be frustrating for ScotRail customers.

“Regrettably, this strike action by RMT members of Network Rail means that we will not be able to operate the vast majority of our services during the period of strike action. Customers should expect significant disruption to services on strike days, as well as the following day.

“On the five routes where we are able to operate a very limited service on strike days, we’re advising customers to seek alternative means of transport and to only travel if they really need to.”


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