Rail Issues Continue to Impact on Scottish Hospitality Businesses

As next week’s major rail strike scheduled to take place south of the Border looms, the Scottish licensed trade has reiterated its previous warning that the impact on tourism and hospitality businesses working to recover after the pandemic could be heavily impacted.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association), said that while ScotRail’s return to a full timetable this week was to be welcomed, the strike in England on July 27 – next Wednesday – would affect services from London to Scotland. There will also be a negative impact on rail services within Scotland.

“Rail operators have confirmed that they will run just 20% of normal services across only half of the UK network during next Wednesday’s strike with trains operating for just 11 hours, between 7.30am and 6.30pm,” he said. “This means the last services from London to Scotland will leave in the early afternoon, throwing the plans of tourists and people on business into disarray.

“While the weather-related delays and disruption to services in Scotland and other parts of the country this week are outwith the control of train operators, the situation has done nothing to help beleaguered hospitality operators whose staff have difficulties getting to and from work and whose customers simply won’t bother going out if getting there and home again is so cumbersome.

“Add to the equation unreliable public transport alternatives in some towns and cities and a lack of services in some rural areas, it is more important than ever that across the UK there are reliable and efficient train services along with late-night public transport provision. There is also a safety issue at night and we are aware of several instances of lengthy waits at taxi ranks and even people being unable to get a taxi home.”

Mr Wilkinson added that with the Edinburgh International Festival, Fringe and other key events across Scotland taking place over the rest of the summer and into early autumn, a safe, efficient and reliable public transport system was “absolutely vital”.

“It’s summer, we’re getting great weather and people are out and about, travelling around Scotland and meeting friends and family closer to home. Tourism is getting a boost from visitors from overseas and across the UK but what message are we sending them if they can’t catch a train or bus to get to where they want to go? It’s absolutely vital that the UK and Scottish governments take action to sort this out.”