COUNTY rail users face problems getting to and from Edinburgh from today after Scotrail cut almost 700 services nationwide due to a shortage of drivers.

In a blow to commuters and leisure travellers, evening trains from the Capital to the 'East Lothian line' stations will terminate hours earlier and there will also be fewer services at other times.

While Scotrail has taken the decision to temporarily cut all of its services between Dunbar and Edinburgh.

The reduced Monday to Friday service, which it is hoped will only be temporary, comes as many train drivers opt not to work overtime after drivers' union Aslef balloted members for strike action in the wake of a rejected 2.2 per cent pay offer.

The last midweek Scotrail train from Edinburgh Waverley to North Berwick - via Musselburgh, Wallyford, Prestonpans, Longniddry and Drem - normally departs at 11.14pm yet, from Monday, the last service will leave at 7.40pm.

While the earliest train to depart North Berwick to Edinburgh midweek, the 6.04am, has been scrapped. There are also fears that there will be more additional cancellations than normal.

Similar cuts are expected to be made to the Saturday and Sunday timetables with details expected to be made public soon.

Paul McLennan, MSP for East Lothian, said “ScotRail has taken the decision to put in place a temporary timetable which avoids unplanned cancellations as a result of an ongoing pay dispute between ScotRail and ASLEF.

"This has impacted rail services across East Lothian, which leaves Dunbar temporarily operating with no ScotRail services and severely reduced evening timetables for North Berwick and elsewhere. 

“This is obviously of significant concern to East Lothian rail passengers. I want to reassure residents that the temporary timetable is designed to give more certainty to passengers for the short term, rather than there being last minute, unplanned cancellations such as we saw at the weekend.

“It is, of course, vital to get the timetable back to normal as quickly as possible.

"I met with ScotRail and other rail operators for a pre-arranged meeting last night and was assured that a review of the temporary timetable will take place on the 3rd of June. As part of these discussions I was informed that ScotRail will provide other transport agencies with demand information to ensure gaps are filled, whether through buses or additional rail services, should industrial action continue for longer than is hoped. 

“We want the dispute to be settled as soon as possible and believe it is important a fair and affordable agreement is reached. Once the dispute has been resolved, public ownership will enable us to ensure that there are real improvements in our railway.”

Craig Hoy, MSP for South Scotland, said: “East Lothian’s rail services have already been decimated by Scotrail and the Scottish government.

“And now frequent rail travellers and season ticket holders have been left high-and-dry by this decision, and many are being forced to resort back to taking the car to get into work.

“The Scottish Government have committed themselves to achieving net-zero by 2045, but just 1 month into owning Scotrail we are already seeing indefinite service cuts with no indication of when trains will be restored.

“Rail users in Dunbar will have to pay up to £5.30 more for a return ticket with other providers and will not have the option of early morning travel into Edinburgh. And trains between North Berwick and Edinburgh will stop running after 8:30pm.

“This will cause untold misery to commuters who are only just getting back to work.

“And this is at a time where East Lothian is one of Scotland’s fastest growing areas and the demand for rail services is on the rise.

“I find this simply unacceptable, and I have raised concerns with Scotrail and the Transport Minister for the urgent restoration of regular services and the possibility of expanding Scotrail services in Dunbar.”

Martin Whitfield, MSP for South Scotland, said: “It is only a matter of weeks since the Scottish government took over ScotRail, but it has already joined the long list of services bungled by the SNP. Rail services are being plunged into chaos, workers are being treated with contempt, and passengers are being left in the lurch.

“Rail users in East Lothian have already suffered years of overcrowding, delays and cancelled services and these latest cuts are just rubbing salt into the wounds. As we rebuild after Covid, rail services should be expanded, not reduced.

“SNP Ministers must take responsibility for fixing this mess – they have already cut services and failed to employ enough staff. It’s time for them to reverse their ScotRail cuts and ensure that the publicly-owned service works for the travelling public.”

The cuts come only a week after ScotRail came under public ownership but officials maintained that the cuts were only a temporary measure.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said: "We are very sorry to customers for the disruption of recent days.

"We know what customers want more than anything is certainty and reliability, which is why we are introducing a temporary timetable.

"We want to resolve this dispute with the trade unions and move forward together to provide the safest, greenest, and most reliable railway we can for Scotland."

Judy Lockhart-Hunter, chairperson of North Berwick Community Council (NBCC), said: "NBCC are very concerned by the changes to the train timetable.

"Our weekday services are well used by residents of North Berwick both for commuting and pleasure.

"Given the cost of living crisis, our public transport services should not be making it more difficult to get to work and people need to feel confident when they leave in the morning that they will be able to get home."

The new temporary Scotrail timetable can be viewed here: