Rail travellers are being warned they’ll have to change their plans for the coming weekends due to service reductions and cancellations.
Passengers heading from the Falkirk area to Glasgow, Edinburgh or Stirling, whether that’s for work, shopping or a night out, will be affected.
The ScotRail Alliance this week announced a string of changes due to take effect on Saturday, October 22.
These are due to the latest phase of work in the electrification programme for the central belt.
For five weekends - up to Sunday, November 20 - trains on the Glasgow Queen Street-Perth and Queen Street-Falkirk Grahamston routes will be cancelled. Services between Edinburgh and Perth will also be off or will operate only between the capital and Falkirk Grahamston or Polmont at certain times.
Replacement buses will run, linking Cumbernauld and Falkirk for example, but journeys will take longer.
ScotRail has created an interactive timeline summarising the key changes to help customers plan ahead - scotrail.co.uk/improvements.
Jacqueline Taggart, ScotRail Alliance customer experience director, said: “We are going through a massive period of change on Scotland’s railway. The work that we are carrying out over the next few months will bring about a revolution in rail – with more and better trains, more services and more seats than ever before.
“However, while we transform the railway, there is inevitably going to be some impact on people’s services. We are doing everything we can to minimise this, and to keep people moving. That is why we have set up a new, interactive webpage that helps customers see at a glance what is happening when they wish to travel.
“No one likes having their journey changed. However, this short term disruption will lead to a more reliable, better rail network that will rank amongst the very best.”
Passengers travelling between Falkirk and Edinburgh are already experiencing disruption as, since late August, there have been no trains back from the capital after 8.30 at night.
One long-suffering traveller from Polmont said: “It’s a difficult time for commuters. The trains from Dunblane are packed in the morning as they are the only ones that stop at Edinburgh Park where many office workers are based.
“Then at night if you’re working late it’s a rush to get to the station for the last train. If you miss it you’re talking about an extra 30 minutes on the bus.
“We know this work has to be done and, who knows, it will probably benefit shops, bars and restaurants in Falkirk if people are put off travelling to the cities and decide to go out locally instead.
“This latest weekend work sounds grim. It was bad enough the other week when people were unable to get to the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow because there were no trains from Falkirk on the Sunday morning.”
For several months earlier this year passengers faced disruption due to the closure of the tunnel at Glasgow Queen Street for work that was part of the same electrification programme.
Ken Sutherland, of Rail Futures Scotland, which campaigns for better train services, said: “Now passengers who show great loyalty and stamina face more upheaval, but there are major benefits to come.
“With this work we are only making up for lost time as the railways were starved of investment for several decades after electrification was first proposed.”