ScotRail plans to cut 300 services a day from its pre-pandemic levels to save taxpayers up to £40 million a year.
The proposed changes from next May would see some 2,100 weekday trains running compared to 2,400 before the Covid crisis – or about one in eight fewer than in 2019.
However, the total is slightly more than the current 2,004 daily services, which have been reduced because of lower demand.
The new “Fit for the Future” timetable would see many currently-reduced services continue.
In a public consultation launched last Friday, the operator said: “We have reviewed the timetable across the whole network to ensure that the service meets the needs of customers and the Scottish Government’s aims as Scotland recovers from the pandemic and in the future.
“We are proposing a new timetable operating around 2,100 services per weekday as the foundation to encourage a return to public transport following the pandemic.
"Most customers will find the number of calls at their station and the destinations served are similar to today.
“However, there are some areas where there is greater change.”
For rail users in the area there are proposed changes on the Edinburgh to Glasgow route via Falkirk High, on Edinburgh to Dunblane services and on those between Glasgow and Edinburgh via Falkirk Grahamston/Cumbernauld.
The Edinburgh to Glasgow route via Falkirk High will see current off-peak service of two trains per hour retained; additional services introduced Monday to Friday to provide four trains per hour during peak hours and a long term plan for four trains per hour on Saturdays, with additional Monday to Friday peak capacity “when demand increases”.
On the Glasgow to Edinburgh route via Falkirk Grahamston/Cumbernauld, the service via Cumbernauld will no longer operate in full; there will be one train per hour between Glasgow and Falkirk Grahamston via Stepps until early evening and one train per hour all day between Glasgow and Cumbernauld via Stepps. Passengers travelling between stations such as Cumbernauld and Edinburgh will be able to change at Falkirk Grahamston. The reduction in the number of services between Edinburgh and Falkirk “is expected to improve performance, along with increasing service occupancy rates and reducing costs”.
The proposals for the Edinburgh to Stirling/Dunblane route are two trains per hour between Edinburgh and Dunblane during the day, calling at all stations, and then one train per hour in the evenings. Future timetables “will explore how to increase capacity on the corridor between Edinburgh, Falkirk, Stirling and Dunblane during peak periods should an increase in demand warrant enhancements”.
The operator said the proposed changes were to address the large number of empty seats on several routes before the pandemic, when fewer than one in four were filled on a typical weekday.
It said: “Returning to our pre-pandemic timetable would result in our trains operating 26 million more vehicle miles each year for little customer benefit.
"As well as increased emissions, that would increase ScotRail costs to the taxpayer by £30 million to £40m each year.
"Our new customer-focused timetable will reflect predicted levels of service as well as the need to provide the best value for money for taxpayers.”