SCOTRAIL is to slash 700 weekday trains as it struggles with a driver shortage – and services from all of 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”.

Among the changes to Ayrshire train services will be the withdrawal of the two ‘fast’ trains each hour during the day between Ayr and Glasgow Central, with the route frequency to be reduced to an ‘all stations’ service every 30 minutes.

Hourly daytime services to and from Largs and Ardrossan Harbour will be maintained.

However, several early morning and late evening trains will be cancelled.

First trains TO Glasgow: 0540 from Ayr, 0642 from Largs

First train from Ardrossan Harbour to Glasgow leaves Ardrossan at 0819

First trains FROM Glasgow: 0615 to Largs, 0645 to Ardrossan Harbour, 0645 to Ayr

Last trains TO Glasgow: 1931 from Ardrossan Harbour, 1954 from Largs, 2145 from Ayr

Last train TO Ardrossan: 1818 from Glasgow Central

Last train TO Largs: 1945 from Glasgow Central

Last train TO Ayr: 2200 from Glasgow Central

For full details of the temporary timetable across the ScotRail network from May 23, click here.

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.