ScotRail’s reduced timetable is due to begin today with more than 700 services cut across the country.

A dispute with the Aslef union, whose members are refusing to make themselves available for overtime, has led to a third of daily services being halted.

The rail operator was brought into public ownership at the beginning of April.

The reduced timetable was confirmed on Wednesday, with Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth later saying it would provide passengers with greater certainty.

At the weekend, Employment Minister Richard Lochhead told the BBC’s Sunday Show he hoped the dispute could be “sorted soon”.

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He said: “My message to all workers in Scotland and all these sectors is we have to be sensible, everything has to be affordable because the country’s in a very, very precarious position at the moment, and if we take wrong decisions we could end up with a recession in the near future, which will cause a lot of damage to people’s lives and local business in Scotland and our economy.

“It’s not for me as a minister to say what’s the right or wrong wage for a train driver or anyone else.

“But just to say that it’s really important that people are compromising, being constructive, and recognise the consequences of these disputes dragging on for too long.”

Glasgow Times:

Jenny Gilruth

A typical ScotRail driver salary is more than £50,000, with drivers being offered a 2.2% pay rise and the opportunity to take part in a revenue share agreement which would take the total package to 5%.

The offer has been rejected by the unions Aslef and RMT, which described it as “derisory”.

READ MORE: Glasgow thug found lying on street told ambulance workers ''I'll smash your head in' 

The Scottish Government has said work is under way to recruit more train drivers and reliance on rest-day working must stop.

The Scottish Conservatives said rail passengers faced a “Black Monday”.

Tory MSP Graham Simpson said: “Hard-pressed passengers deserve better than having to pay the price for the SNP’s chaotic incompetence with no end in sight.

“It’s scandalous that the Scottish Government’s failings could cost our economy up to £80 million a week starting on Black Monday.

“Just seven weeks into Nat Rail and Scotland already faces a summer of discontent and service cuts.

“The SNP must sort this mess and address the travel misery facing commuters by thrashing out a resolution with the unions.”