ScotRail is to operate a reduced service from February, as lockdown has restricted the number of people travelling.
From Monday February 1, the operator will change its timetable, reducing the number of services operating after Covid-19 restrictions lessened the number of passengers seen in recent weeks.
This is the second change for ScotRail in recent weeks, after the number of carriages on services were reduced earlier in January, with customer numbers down by almost 90% compared to the same time last year.
The company said that the financial pressures of the pandemic has led to a reduction in the services they can offer.
ScotRail plans to reduce services by around 35% of what it offered before the pandemic, with the focus on providing a safe, reliable service for key workers, having consulted with NHS boards across Scotland to ensure shift patterns for key workers are supported as far as possible.
We’ll reduce the number of trains running across Scotland from Monday (1 February), as we continue to revise the critical service we’re providing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click below to find out more.
— ScotRail (@ScotRail) January 27, 2021
The suspension of driver training due to the pandemic also means ScotRail is unable to train new drivers or increase the number of routes on which existing drivers can operate.
All changes being made will be constantly reviewed, particularly if there is any change to passenger numbers. This will ensure that physical distancing guidelines can be observed.
David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said: “Everyone across Scotland’s railway is working incredibly hard to deliver for our customers, and this latest change to our timetable helps us to ensure we keep getting people to where they need to be.
“We have constantly adapted our timetable throughout the pandemic to reflect restrictions in place at any given time, allowing those travelling to be able to rely on ScotRail, and these alterations will again ensure that we deliver that critical service.
“There will also be minimal change for those currently using our services, as we have matched changes with the current demand.
“Like any business during the pandemic, we need to continue to make sensible financial decisions, and reducing the number of services means a reduction in costs for the taxpayer, while continuing to deliver a safe and reliable rail service.”
Robert Samson, Transport Focus stakeholder manager, said: “Train timetables must still meet the needs of those who have to travel. Many key workers rely on the first and last services of the day so it’s important that these are maintained.
“Providing enough capacity for those who are travelling to properly social distance remains vital.
“The focus on adapting the timetable to continue to provide a safe and reliable service, particularly for key workers and in support of the vaccination rollout, should ensure a train service that passengers can rely on.”