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Chaos ahead as ScotRail 'axes' reservations from Inverness to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow for at least six months; move angers RMT union; delayed arrival of InterCity 125s on routes thought to be reason

By Louise Glen

One of the 'new' ScotRail liveried InterCity 125s. Picture: Geof Sheppard, via Wikimedia Commons.
One of the 'new' ScotRail liveried InterCity 125s. Picture: Geof Sheppard, via Wikimedia Commons.

A ROW has broken out between the unions and ScotRail over the allocation of booked seats, after the rail operator cancelled all reservations to and from Inverness at the height of the festive season.

From December 15, for at least six months, there will be no seat reservations between Inverness and Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – something the RMT union is “very unhappy” about.

The union claims ScotRail failed to negotiate with members ahead of its plan to wipe out reservations.

For its part ScotRail claims it can not guarantee seats due to a late delivery of intercity trains on the route. The train operator claims it can not plan the train-type used in advance, making it difficult to guarantee the seat configuration.

The RMT’s Mick Hogg said: “The train reservations are chaotic and unacceptable – once again Abellio ScotRail fails to put passengers and staff first by blaming someone else.

“It is the worst railway Scotland has ever had.Abellio ScotRail have a licence to fail and are getting away with it.”

Highland MSP Dave Stewart agreed, he said: “I think that having no ticket reservations could cause problems when people are vying for seats. It is a recipe for chaos.

“Disabled and elderly passengers or those with small children can take longer to board the train and get settled and I predict they could be particularly affected.

“This highlights the need for a publicly-owned railway network with the capacity to build and maintain its infrastructure and rolling stock.”

However, a spokesman for the Friends of the Far North Line, Ian Budd, said ScotRail had been saddled with a headache that was not easy to resolve.

“There is no question this is a bad situation. Until the new trains come into service the train configurations just don’t match the seat bookings.”

A ScotRail spokesman said: “We have been badly let down by our high-speed train suppliers Wabtec and Angel, which means we don’t have as many upgraded trains as we should have had at this point.

“Because of this, unfortunately we aren’t able to provide a consistent level of service to our customers. As a result, for an interim period of time we have replaced reservations.

“Importantly for our customers, we will continue to sell the cheapest advance tickets and manage quotas on our trains.”

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