Scotland

Rail services improve after remedial notice

ScotRail train Image copyright Getty Images

More trains are running on time and fewer services are being cancelled, ScotRail has claimed three months after being served with a remedial notice.

The rail operator was forced to agree an improvement plan with the Scottish government after major problems on the network around Christmas.

Campaigners say it is still unclear if the changes will lead to long-term improvements for rail travellers.

Ministers said there was "positive progress" but still work to be done.

Rail passengers were hit by a wave of delays and cancellations at the turn of the year, as ScotRail tried to bring in a new timetable.

It prompted the Scottish government to step in and order the rail firm to improve its performance.

Three months later ScotRail claims it had delivered 11 out of 19 commitments and was on track to deliver the rest.

They include:

  • Driver training in the east of the Scotland has been completed
  • Three additional high-speed trains have been leased
  • £500,000 has been invested in a performance improvement fund
  • Eight additional Hitachi train technicians have been recruited.

ScotRail said the completion of driver training in the east of Scotland has had a "significant impact", with cancellations in the region at their lowest level in a year.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cancellations led to overcrowding on some services

In Fife - one of the worst-affected areas in December - 93.25% of trains met their punctuality target, the train firm said.

It said it was also recruiting more frontline staff and was on track to exceed a commitment of hiring 55 extra drivers and 30 conductors during 2019.

Operations director David Simpson told BBC Good Morning Scotland there is "more to do" despite improvements in recent months.

He said: "The successful delivery of our remedial plan remains a priority for everyone at ScotRail and I am delighted to see the progress we have made in such a short period of time.

"The December timetable change was challenging, we had to give some of the trains we used back to the owners and we hadn't finished training the crew on the replacement trains because they were late being delivered.

"That has been the big focus for us over the past six months and so the May timetable change has gone very smoothly.

"We still have work to do, we see impact from things like short notice sickness and that is why we are hiring additional drivers and that will give us resilience day-to-day.

"There's lots of new trains in the fleet and that is helping the improve punctuality and reliability."

'Work to be done'

Campaign group Transport Focus said it was important that the improvements continued.

"It's a promising start to the remedial plan that has seen targets achieved, however, passengers will want to see this maintained and built on so that a consistent high level of punctuality and reliability is delivered on a daily basis," spokesman Robert Samson said.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: "We welcome the positive progress around performance and the ongoing efforts to ensure this continues, particularly around staff recruitment and training. There is still work to be done and we will continue to press ScotRail to deliver the high standards passengers expect and deserve."

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