Transport Minister quizzed over Highland timetable changes which see more than 50% of services cancelled

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone has written to Scottish Government Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth, to pose six questions about the ScotRail timetable cuts in the Highlands after rail campaigners suggested that well over 50 per cent of available trains are being cut.

From Monday, the last train to Caithness from Inverness will leave at 2pm, with the 6.30pm service slashed. The final train to Tain will leave at 5.12pm, after ScotRail cut the 9pm departure.

Ian Budd convenor of rail campaign group Friends of the Far North Line (FoFNL) said services on the Far North Line will be reduced from four full route services each way to two and services at the southern end from five southbound and four northbound to two and one respectively. This will see a reduction in available trains by "well over 50 per cent"

Jamie Stone, the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP, has now written to the Transport Minister to query the impact the changes will have on Highland healthcare provision, workers’ rights, businesses and the environment.

He has also sought information on whether extra bus services would be added in Highland to ensure people are still able to travel.

Commenting on the letter, Mr Stone said:

“My constituents are worried and angry about what these cuts mean for their daily lives. From hospital access to the tourism economy, people in the Highlands appear to have been hardest hit by ScotRail’s timetable changes.

“Highlanders who rely on the train network to access work, medical care and onward travel urgently need assurances from the government that their lives are not going to be turned upside down.

“To quote one of my constituents, “we in the Highlands know that in effect, a ‘temporary review’ usually ends up being permanent”. The Transport Minister must provide this reassurance at the very earliest opportunity.”

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