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Stone says disruption to Highland rail services is 'simply not good enough'

By Gordon Calder

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THE disruption to rail services in the Highlands due to strike action "simply isn't good enough," according to north MP, Jamie Stone.

He has called on the Scottish and UK governments "to get around the negotiating table now and sort this out."

The Caithness, Sutherland and easter Ross MP hit out after it emerged that no train services north of Edinburgh or |Glasgow will run on June 21, 23 and 25 as a result of industrial action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

An ongoing dispute with train drivers has seen a reduced timetable brought in, with afternoon and evening services particularly affected in the Highlands. The final train from Caithness to Inverness now departs at 2pm, while the last service to Tain leaves Inverness at 5.12pm.

This week ScotRail has started to run additional evening and night-time trains across other parts of the country but none of these routes serve the north.

Jamie Stone says rail disruption is "simply not good enough" Pic: Jessica Taylor
Jamie Stone says rail disruption is "simply not good enough" Pic: Jessica Taylor

Mr Stone said: "People across the Highlands have already had their lives disrupted by weeks of reduced train services, making it difficult or completely impracticable for some to get to work or hospital appointments. It has put others off using public transport completely at a time when we should be encouraging it."

The Liberal Democrat MP added: "Even now as some additional services have been restored, the Highlands have had nothing, with the promise of worse to come next week. This simply isn’t good enough. The Scottish and UK Governments need to get around the negotiating table now and sort this out."

The three-day strike action will severely limit the number of services operating for passengers and freight, with the rail network operating for part of the day on strike dates on selected central belt routes between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Although ScotRail staff are not participating in the strike, their services on strike days will only operate on five routes: Edinburgh – Glasgow; Edinburgh – Bathgate; Glasgow – Hamilton/Larkhall; Glasgow – Lanark and Edinburgh – Glasgow via Shotts.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: "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 next week, including on the days between strike action."

RMT members from Network Rail Scotland and cross-border train operators LNER, CrossCounty, Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express will be taking part in the industrial action.

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

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