The decision to cancel trains in Falkirk to cope with extra travel elsewhere in the country due to the Forth Road Bridge closure has been criticised.
Engineers found cracks in the bridge’s structure last week forcing the closure which has caused chaos on the roads and rail lines across the country.
The M9 running through Falkirk has seen a substantial rise in traffic at peak times as drivers head for the alternative Kincardine and Clackmannanshire bridges and diversionary routes.
And to add to the disruption, Scotrail, now run by Dutch firm Abellio, announced this week trains from the Grahamston station in the town centre would be cancelled from there to Glasgow Queen Street via Cumbernauld until the bridge re-opens, which is expected to be some time in January.
The company said the move was necessary as extra carriages were needed for other services with more travellers using trains instead of the roads leading to the bridge and, with Falkirk having another station, other transport links were in place here.
To substitute the cancellation of services, Scotrail has arranged replacement bus services to ferry local customers to Falkirk High station or Cumbenauld.
A spokeswoman said: “This decision was made only after we had hired in trains from elsewhere and freed up every carriage we have for use on services over the Forth.
“We are sorry we have had to do this because we realise that nobody likes to see their own service reduced or changed.”
The RMT union has raised concerns over Scotrail’s stock capacity of carriages, as has Falkirk North Councillor Craig R Martin, who is angry there was no consultation over the trains cancellation.
He said: “It’s scandalous that Scotland does not have spare train capacity to deal with extra demand when required, which has resulted in our Grahamston train service to Glasgow Queen Street being removed,
“It is not right that Falkirk is paying the price for lack of maintenance by the Scottish Government on the Forth Road Bridge. Also, who took the decision to remove that service. Was there anyone in that room speaking up for Falkirk as the council was not asked its view and clearly no one asked the train passengers in Falkirk.”
Falkirk MSP Angus MacDonald was due to meet with Scotrail representatives yesterday (Wednesday) for assurances that the service would be reinstated as soon as possible.
He said: “This is clearly an exceptional situation and Scotrail has had to take exceptional steps to deal with it. I am surprised a senior councillor is not prepared to recognise that.
“To go on the offensive regarding the temporary removal of a service at a time when Falkirk Council is proposing massive cuts to local bus services is hypocritical to say the least.
“The only train service locally to be temporary suspended is, regrettably, the Falkirk Grahamston to Cumbernauld service, however, ScotRail is providing replacement buses instead, connecting at Cumbernauld with train services that run to Glasgow Queen Street Low Level and stations further west.
“Falkirk High continues to have direct services to Croy (for Cumbernauld) and Glasgow every 15 minutes. A shuttle bus runs between Falkirk Grahamston and Falkirk High.”
For more information on train services visit www.scotrail.co.uk.