Scotland

ScotRail punctuality fails to improve

New train
Image caption ScotRail unveiled the first in its new fleet of electric trains on Sunday

The punctuality of ScotRail trains has not improved over the past four weeks, according to the latest figures.

The rail operator is under pressure to improve its service after failing to meet targets set out in its franchise agreement.

New figures show punctuality for the four weeks to 10 December was unchanged compared with the previous period.

ScotRail said it had to contend with two major disruptions - in Edinburgh and Glasgow - during this period.

The company also argued that similar figures for operators in England and Wales showed a decline in their punctuality, while ScotRail's "public performance measure" remained at 89.8%.

Phil Verster, managing director at ScotRail Alliance, said it had been an "extremely challenging period".

"As well as having some very low temperatures to contend with, we also saw two significant incidents which caused widespread disruption on the network," he said.

"These two incidents alone had a major impact on our train performance."

'Immediate improvement'

There has been recent criticism from the public over the punctuality and reliability of ScotRail services since Dutch firm Abellio took over the franchise in 2015.

Opposition parties have also repeatedly questioned the Scottish government over the level of service.

In November, Humza Yousaf called for "immediate improvement" in rail services as the government published its improvement plan for ScotRail.

ScotRail has defended its record by arguing it is in the middle of building a railway network fit for the 21st Century.

At the weekend, the operator unveiled the first in its fleet of 70 electric trains that will be phased into service from September 2017.

ScotRail has billed the trains as "faster, longer and greener". Night testing of the new trains started this week.

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