Six days of rail disruption in Scotland expected as end of driver dispute close

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The leadership of a train drivers’ union has agreed to put a pay deal to members for final approval as six days of disruption is expected on the network as a result of another dispute.

Aslef’s executive committee announced on Wednesday that a ballot of members would go ahead after previously rejecting a deal to end a dispute that has seen more than 700 services cut, with a final result expected on July 11.

Members of the union stopped working overtime when the dispute began, resulting in a temporary timetable being put in place.

The new offer will see pay increase by five per cent, along with more money for rest day and Sunday working, driving instructor and maternity pay, as well as a policy of no compulsory redundancies for the next five years.

Kevin Lindsay, the Scottish regional organiser for the union, said: “Following a meeting of Aslef’s national executive committee today, it has been agreed that the package of pay and conditions improvements negotiated between the union and ScotRail will be put to all members in a ballot. The executive is recommending members accept the deal.

“Aslef is a democratic, lay, member-led union, therefore it is right that the train drivers of Scotland decide whether or not to accept this offer. Ballot papers will go out next week and the result announced on July 11.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We welcome Aslef’s National Executive’s recognition of the very good offer, an offer which is in part self-funded through increased revenue and roster flexibilities, and also that they will now take this to their members with a recommendation to accept.”

Meanwhile, ScotRail has announced six days of disruption next week as a result of UK-wide strike action by the RMT union against Network Rail and 13 other train providers.

The dispute from workers is not with ScotRail, although there will be a “major knock-on effect” on services north of the border.

Action looks set to go ahead on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday next week, with just five routes in Scotland’s central belt running during the hours of 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh via Falkirk High, Edinburgh and Bathgate, Glasgow and Larkhall and Glasgow and Lanark will have two trains per hour, while another between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Shotts will have one train per hour.

Customers have been warned they should only travel on the routes “if they really need to” and that final services will leave stations “well before 6.30pm”.

Disruption will also be felt on the network in the days following the action as signal boxes are reopened, particularly outside the central belt.

An update from ScotRail on Wednesday said it “may well be later in the day” before services return to normal in areas other than the middle of the country, where signal boxes are expected to be reopened as early at 7.15am.

David Simpson, ScotRail’s 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 next week, including on the days between strike action.

“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.”

RMT members in Scotland are also locked in a pay dispute with ScotRail, having rejected a deal similar to that offered to Aslef last week.

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