NATIONALISED ScotRail would not hold urgent talks to end a service-crippling pay dispute until next week - because of the Queens' Platinum Jubilee bank holiday, union leaders say.

The train drivers union Aslef said that they were willing to re-engage yesterday, on Friday and even at the weekend, in a bid to end the impasse that has resulted in travel chaos across Scotland - but were told the discussions had to wait, our sister title the Herald reports.

ScotRail were able to announce an emergency timetable on Thursday for this Sunday - after 400 services were hit by a driver shortage last Sunday. The public, however, will not be able to see the arrangements until Saturday with ScotRail explaining that "customer information systems are currently updating".

Glasgow Times:

ScotRail said Aslef were "playing games" over meeting timings saying staff who are members of the company council needed to be relieved of their ScotRail duties to attend pay talks and this could not be arranged until Monday.

Train drivers union Aslef believe ministers are sitting on a pot of money to resolve the pay dispute that has crippled services across the country and threatens further months of chaos.

The train drivers union insist they are not being greedy in rejecting a 'final offer' 4.2% pay increase and believe that both the nationalised train operator and their owners, the Scottish Government have the financial resources to resolve the impasse.

The dispute has resulted in thousands of service cancellations in the past three weeks on top of an emergency timetable that has seen services cut by a third.

It is understood the temporary Sunday timetable  will see just 556 of its normal 1,088 services running.

The national executive committee of the Aslef rejected the offer because "it didn't meet our aspirations" and on Thursday the union said it had discussed it with a number of drivers to gauge opinion first. The offer was not put to drivers by way of a referendum as first anticipated.

But while officials have been scrambling to set up an emergency timetable for Sunday - discussions to end the dispute had to wait.

Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: "We were ready and available, today, tomorrow and over the weekend but it is a holiday weekend and ScotRail are off. So we will attend talks on Monday."

One rail user group has called on ministers to intervene to stop the continued ScotRail issues, two months after the Scottish Government nationalised it.

Jane Ann Liston, the group secretary of campaign group Railfuture Scotland said the Scottish Government had to abandon it's arm's length' policy over ScotRail.

"They are now directly responsible for running Scotrail through ownership. The transport minister and Transport Scotland are perfectly placed to take the matters further, which one would think would be recognised by Aslef.

Glasgow Times:

"In the meantime, more and more people will be travelling by car instead of the greatly more sustainable rail, because they cannot rely upon the trains to run where and when they require them to. Not only is this no way to run a railway, it is also no way to save the planet."

It is understood that union negotiators believe that money set aside for a bonus scheme based on performance scheme could be use to improve the pay of drivers. It is further understood that the suggestion was made in previous negotiations and rejected.

The union says that even if further discussions on Monday prove fruitful it could take three weeks at least before ScotRail could get back to a normal timetable - as members are consulted over any further offer.

It has been confirmed that the earliest a strike could be organised is August.

Questions had remained over whether train staff, especially drivers, would accept the 4.2% pay offer - as there was an aspiration to have pay rises closer to a rate of inflation at the time talks began of 8.2% Mr Lindsay said: "We understand the country is facing a number of challenging issues right now with double digit inflation, but there is also an earnings and income crisis across the whole of Scotland.

"What we are willing to do is sit down with ScotRail to reach a settlement with conditions and payment.

"We believe there is enough money there in the pot if it was rejigged and done a different way, we could easily reach a settlement.

"But it is down to whether there is the will on the other side to do that."

This revolves around what ScotRail said was a revenue share premium, which rewards all colleagues where ScotRail exceeds turnover budget targets.

The scheme proposed would be backdated to April 1, 2022 and would be subject to review as part of pay talks for 2023/24.

Using the first two railway periods of 2022/23 as an example, the proposal would be worth £195 per four-week period, ScotRail said.

"We have put forward a number of ideas in what we say are solutions to reach a settlement. But we have been unable to secure an agreement from the other side of the table at this stage," said Mr Lindsay.

"We believe if they sit down with us, listen to us, take on board some of the stuff we are saying, then we can get there.

"There is a convoluted bonus scheme that ScotRail proposed, linked to various targets around revenue. If that money is available, then there is a solution to this problem.

"We have stressed we are willing to negotiate but they have just fallen short of where we need to be. We aren't being greedy, we are far from being greedy. What we want is a fair settlement but we also want everyone else in the public sector get what they deserve too."

ScotRail says the temporary but indefinite timetable, which has meant 700 daily service cuts, has come as a result of the drivers' pay dispute which has meant some refusing to take up the option of working rest days and Sundays, crucial to keep trains running in Scotland.

"The key part is that we haven't taken any strike action," said Mr Lindsay. "What has happened is ScotRail train drivers have decided by themselves that they are not going to work additional shifts and ScotRail need drivers to work two shifts additional a month to run their timetable.

"So there should be serious questions asked of ScotRail and the Scottish Government who have had on their hand on the untiler for over two-and-a-half years throughout the pandemic, why they haven't got enough employees in place, not just in driving grades, but in the whole spectrum of grades across the railway.

"They are more than happy to have a seven day railway. They are more than happy to have Sunday as part of the working week."

He said “the ball is clearly in ScotRail’s court now” when it comes to resolving the dispute over pay and believed a deal was "close".

A ScotRail spokesman said: “We made the offer to Aslef to meet on Monday, which they have accepted.

“Rather than play games on the timing of meetings, they should reconsider the significantly improved pay offer and put it to a vote of their members.”

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, added: “We’re sorry to customers for the disruption on Sundays over recent weeks so this temporary timetable will provide greater certainty and reliability for customers.

“We’re incredibly disappointed and frustrated that Aslef bosses have rejected this improved pay offer. It’s astonishing that they will not even put this offer to their members.

“Our substantially improved pay offer reflects the cost-of-living challenges faced by families across the country, while balancing it against the need to provide value for the taxpayer.

“We have offered to meet Aself but, in the meantime, would urge them to reconsider this offer in the interest of their members and the future of the railway in Scotland."

Transport Scotland said: “We acknowledge the impact the temporary timetable is having on services, but it is providing greater certainty to passengers and minimising unplanned cancellations. For example, in the first week of the temporary timetable there was an average of just seven unplanned cancellations per day, compared to a total of over 600 for the previous weekend alone.

“We all need to work together to make nationalisation a success. Ministers are committed to ensuring that the railway unions are part of that success. However, to be part of the vision moving forward, the unions need to agree on a deal that is both fair and affordable, particularly in the context of wider public sector pay policy."

ScotRail is also facing the threat of strike action from members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) who have also been offered the 4.2% offer. The RMT represents the vast majority of the 5000 ScotRail staff include some drivers.

The RMT is also threatening UK-wide action which would hit all ScotRail services from mid-June onwards as a result of a separate dispute with Network Rail, the owners of the rail infrastructure, including tracks and signals.