SCOTRAIL is to slash 700 weekday trains as it struggles with a driver shortage – and services at all of East Ayrshire’s railway stations will be among those affected.

The recently nationalised rail service is indefinitely cutting the services – accounting for about a third of trains from Monday-Friday.

Meanwhile, Saturday and Sunday services will operate at about two thirds of normal capacity.

The cuts will take effect from Monday, May 23.

A “significant” number of drivers are not working overtime at the moment as they have rejected an offer of a 2.2 pr cent pay rise , leading to the staff shortage.

Following Wednesday’s announcement from ScotRail, it has been confirmed that union Aslef will be balloting members for strike action.

Joanna Macguire, chief operating officer of ScotRail, said: “As of next week, we plan to reduce our timetable to around 70 per cent.

"We want to deliver 70 per cent of our services very well.

"Due to the withdrawal of rest day working by some colleagues, we have no option but to move to the reduced timetable and to be confident that we can deliver it well.”

Ms Macguire said ScotRail was “not in any way trying to be disruptive or punitive towards or staff”.

Temporary timetables for Monday-Friday services from May 23 were published on Wednesday.

ScotRail said it was “currently working on temporary timetables for Saturdays, which will be broadly similar as Mon-Fri, and for Sundays as well”, and said customers would be updated “in the coming days”.

On the route between Glasgow, Kilmarnock and Dumfries, via Auchinleck, New Cumnock, Kirkconnel and Sanquhar, ONLY the following trains will operate from May 23 - all other services will be cancelled.

0707 Glasgow Central-Carlisle

0913 Glasgow Central-Carlisle

1313 Glasgow Central-Carlisle

1728 Glasgow Central-Dumfries

1913 Glasgow Central-Carlisle

0607 Carlisle-Glasgow Central

0958 Carlisle-Glasgow Central

1408 Carlisle-Glasgow Central

1758 Carlisle-Glasgow Central

For full details of service changes across the ScotRail network from May 23, click here.

Meanwhile Chris Gibb, chief executive of Scottish Rail Holdings, insisted that there are enough drivers going through training to provide a full timetable in the future. However, no specific date was provided.

“As drivers become competent, we will reinstate services as necessary in the coming weeks and months,” he insisted.

Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay called for the Scottish Government to allow negotiations to take place in a “fair and open manner”.

“These cuts will have a devastating effect on passengers and their confidence in our railway,” he said.

"It’s industrial vandalism by the Scottish Government.

In a statement to customers, ScotRail said: “We want to resolve this dispute with the trade unions and move forward together to provide the safest, greenest, and most reliable railway we can for Scotland.

“In the meantime, we’re asking customers to check your journey as your train times may have changed.”

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth told MSPs on Wednesday that the revised timetable would give a “more stable and reliable service” to passengers.

Ms Gilruth also called on trade unions who campaigned for public ownership to “come back to the table” to negotiate an agreement.