Labour attacks ScotRail over 50 late trains a day

Nearly 50 trains a day are cancelled or significantly delayed on Scotland's railways, according to new analysis by Scottish Labour.
Passengers board at Falkirk High station. Photograph: Michael GillenPassengers board at Falkirk High station. Photograph: Michael Gillen
Passengers board at Falkirk High station. Photograph: Michael Gillen

The party highlighted data from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) showing that during each four-week period an average of 1,360 services are either cancelled or arrive more than half an hour late.

The figures show an average of 49 trains have been cancelled or significantly delayed every day since Dutch operator Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise in April 2015.

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ScotRail produced a performance improvement plan in September at the request of Transport Scotland after punctuality and reliability fell below target.

Amid criticism of the franchise Labour has launched a campaign for rail fares to be frozen in 2017, a proposal First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will consider. Transport minister Humza Yousaf has faced calls to quit from trade unions after an engine breakdown left thousands of passengers stranded earlier this month.

With regulated rail fares, including season tickets, due to rise by up to 1.9 per cent from January, the party says the freeze could save commuters up to £100 on season passes.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman, Neil Bibby MSP, said more should also be done to ensure passengers who face delays are aware of their rights.

He said: “These figures are just the latest demonstration of the problems that passengers are facing.

“Not only are people travelling on expensive and overcrowded trains, nearly 50 services a day are significantly late or even cancelled. That causes huge problems for commuters trying to get to and from work.

“With so much disruption on the railways, it is clear passengers do not feel they are getting a fair deal. Much more has to be done to make sure they are properly compensated and that the travelling public has confidence in the Delay Repay scheme.

“Passengers deserve a break. That is why Scottish Labour believes passengers deserve a fare freeze in 2017.”

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A spokeswoman for ScotRail said it operated more than 2,300 services a day with punctuality at 89.8 per cent compared with 87.9 per cent for operators in England and Wales. “We are going through the biggest change and improvement in our railway infrastructure since the Victorian era,” she said. “That upgrade to our track is being matched by what we are investing in our fleet. Our largest ever train improvement programme will deliver new and better trains, with more seats and customer benefits like enhanced wi-fi and at-seat power sockets. All of this will take time. While we are working on it, we will do everything we can to minimise disruption and to keep people moving. When it is all in place, we will have transformed rail travel in Scotland.

“However, there is no doubt that we need to deliver better punctuality and reliability. Our performance improvement plan contains 246 individual actions to make things better, every single day.

“All 7,500 people who work for the ScotRail Alliance are focused on one goal – improving performance and delivering the best possible service for our customers.”