AYRSHIRE commuters will begin the new year with transport woes as train services are to be temporarily cut to deal with staff shortages due to Covid-19.

ScotRail has announced changes to a number of services in the central belt region in order to provide their customers with "a level of certainty about which services are running in the coming weeks".

The changes will take effect Tuesday, January 4 and will be in effect on weekdays only until Friday, January 28.

This is due to recent spike Covid-related absences among ScotRail staff – with some having tested positive, others awaiting PCR test results, and many self-isolating as a result of being in close contact with someone who has tested positive.  

Changes will include withdrawing a number of peak services around morning and early evening and the addition of further stops on speedier, direct trains. 

Services to be taken off the timetable for a total of four weeks include: 

0745, 0829, 0900, 0932, 1000, 1030, 1200, 1531, 1640, 1717, 1747 Glasgow Central-Ayr;

0717, 0741, 0853, 1252, 1452, 1525, 1548, 1624, 1824, Ayr-Glasgow Central;

0814 Kilwinning-Glasgow Central;

0722 Largs-Glasgow Central.

The following Ayrshire trains will have additional stops built in to their timetables as a result of the changes.

0730 Glasgow to Ayr will call additionally at Milliken Park, Howwood, Lochwinnoch, Glengarnock and Dalry;

1631 Glasgow to Ayr will call additionally at Paisley Gilmour Street, Johnstone, Milliken Park, Howwood, Lochwinnoch, Glengarnock and Dalry;

1734 Glasgow Central to Ayr will call additionally at Johnstone, Howwood, Glengarnock and Dalry;

0734 Ayr to Glasgow will call additionally at Newton-on-Ayr, Barassie, Dalry, Glengarnock and Johnstone.

In addition, the 0829 Ayr to Glasgow service will be retimed to depart Ayr at 0835.

Robert Samson, Transport Focus senior stakeholder manager, said: “It’s better for some services to be temporarily withdrawn on a planned basis than to have chaotic last-minute cancellations as these are harder for passengers to deal with.

“Passengers need clear, reliable information to plan their journeys and a timetable that is dependable. These temporary changes to the timetable should deliver an increased level of certainty for passengers.”

David Simpson, ScotRail's operations director, said: “Like most businesses, ScotRail is not immune to the impact of coronavirus.

"We’ve been working flat out to run a safe and reliable railway in really difficult and rapidly changing circumstances.

“As we continue to battle against the impact of coronavirus, we want to provide customers with a level of certainty, which is why we are introducing some temporary changes to our timetable. 

“We’ve looked to spread these changes out across the day where possible to minimise the impact on our customers, but people should plan ahead and continue to check the train times right up until they arrive at the station.

“We urge anyone travelling with us to stay safe and continue to follow government guidance. This includes maintaining good hand hygiene and wearing a face covering for your entire journey.” 

A full list of the changes can be found on the ScotRail website at scotrail.co.uk/timetable-update

ScotRail says it will continue to review staff absence levels over the coming weeks in the event of a further spike in cases. 

Customers should make sure they check their journeys via the ScotRail app or website before they try to travel in case of any unforeseen changes.

ScotRail’s social media channels, especially Twitter, will also be giving out up to date information.