Venues’ warning over ‘disastrous’ nationalised ScotRail cuts as Bear’s Den brings gig forward

ENTERTAINMENT venues have hit out at cuts to the ScotRail timetable – as one Glasgow venue brought forward a gig as the last train home has been brought forward by in some cases hours.

Venue operators have warned that the Scottish economy will suffer if rail services in and out of major cities will be hit.

Organisers of Edinburgh’s festivals said their recovery from the pandemic is being threatened by the prospect of strike action.

Graham Main, executive director at Summerhall, said those in the industry hoped to see the operator prioritise weekend services.

He said: “It is vital that our nation is able to take part in the re-emergence of live performance and culture, irrespective of where they live in Scotland.

““We all need to pull together this year to safeguard Scotland’s outstanding live music, theatre and arts industries.”

The MacArts in Galashiels said the new timetable was “absolutely disastrous” for business and had already been contacted by gig-goers asking for refunds as the last train in the town leaving at 8.30pm before bands start.

It was brought in on Monday because a driver dispute over a 2% pay deal meant some drivers were not working on rest days – considered crucial in keeping trains on the tracks.

London folk rock band Bear’s Den announced changes to stage timesat the O2 Academy on Monday night – the day that a third of ScotRail’s timetable was cut.

The band told fans: “Due to the disruption to some of the ScotRail train services in and around Glasgow tonight we’ve decided to bring forward our stage times.”

The band were in Glasgow to promote the release of their album Blue Hours – their second UK Top 10 record.

The revised timetable sees almost 700 fewer train services a day with the last train on many routes departing much earlier than usual.

It was drawn up during an impasse over a 2.2% pay rise offer branded “derisory” by the union.

From Monday, the last train from Edinburgh to Glasgow will be at 10.15pm instead of 11.45pm.

The last service from Glasgow to Aberdeen will leave at 6.41pm instead of 9.40pm.

Meanwhile, the last train from Dundee to Edinburgh is now at 8pm rather than 10.48pm. The last train from Perth to Glasgow is 8.14pm, brought forward from 10.48pm.

Commuters from Glasgow to Larbert will have to wait to head home after work, with no trains between 5pm and 6pm.

There are concerns that fans heading to the Scotland v Ukraine and Scotland v Armenia football games at Hampden on Wednesday, June 1 and Wednesday, June 8 may have to find another way home, with kick-off for each match at 7:45pm.

HeraldScotland:

With most gigs ending between 10 and 11pm the last trains between Scotland’s main cities are departing up to four hours earlier than normal.

Major names in concert in the coming days include Lorde at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, Emeli Sande at Oran Mor in Glasgow, The Script at Aberdeen P&J Live and Paolo Nutini at the Corran Halls in Oban on Thursday. On Friday The Script are at the Hydro in Glasgow and Kasabian are at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen.

The Edinburgh Cultural Venues Group (ECVG), made up of eight leading arts and cultural organisations, strongly criticised ScotRail’s timetable and said the lack of access to arts venues would be detrimental to an industry that “contributes hugely to the local economy”.

Chairman Ken Hay said: “Edinburgh is a world class and vibrant cultural city. Our theatres, concert halls, cinemas and other venues attract thousands of people from across Scotland and beyond every day.

“We are reliant on audiences being able to travel easily to and from Edinburgh from across Scotland. “Anything which excludes people from accessing our events will damage not just the cultural sector, but the wider night-time economy of the city.”

MacArts venue manager Chris Wemyss said that with gigs involving The Skids, The Rezillos and Goodbye Mr Mackenzie coming up the cuts could not have come at a worse time.

“This is absolutely disastrous for us,” he said. “This has just been sprung on us at the last minute.

“We have sold a considerable number of tickets to people in Edinburgh, Glasgow and around the central belt, who all travel down here by train.”

He told the BBC: “We’re already getting contacted for refunds and I’m expecting many more as this temporary timetable continues.”

He said ticket sales were already down due to the cost-of-living crisis and concerns about Covid so the new timetable was a “disaster”.

“We know as much as anyone else about how long this temporary timetable is going to last,” he said.

“I will be contacting ScotRail directly to see if they can provide any indication of how long this will last, as we have a lot of gigs – some of them close to being sold out – coming up.

“We are a responsible venue and will contact our customers to let them know there is a chance that there won’t be any trains leaving Galashiels after the gigs.”