Scotland business

Petition calls for Abellio to lose ScotRail operation

scotrail train Image copyright PA

A petition calling for Abellio to be stripped of the ScotRail contract, backed by about 19,000 people, has been presented to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.

It calls for the Scottish government to act over delays and cancellations.

ScotRail has said one of the largest programmes of modernisation since Victorian times is to blame for the disruption.

But it argued the result of the programme will "transform" travel.

The Scottish government can trigger a clause to remove the contract from a service provider if punctuality rates drop below 84%.

'Not good enough'

Mr Yousaf said the petition was a "real wake-up call" for everyone involved in Scotland's railways.

"We are putting in place a plan which in the years to come is going to make our railways one of the best in the UK, one of the best in Europe," he said. "I have got no doubt about that at all.

"In fact, when I was meeting with the railways minister of the UK government yesterday, he said to us that they look towards Scotland for some of the improvements that we've made.

"That doesn't mean everything's perfect. I certainly wouldn't make that claim at all - 19,000 people telling me that something is wrong with our railways is a real wake-up call for all of us involved in railways to say where can we improve it?"

Image caption Recent infrastructure projects have included the closure of the Queen Street tunnel in Glasgow

Earlier Stewart Kirkpatrick, from the campaign group 38 degrees, told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that the quality of service on ScotRail trains was "not good enough".

"We've been bombarded with stories from members across Scotland of delays, frustrations, missed appointments, important life events being impacted by the poor service offered by ScotRail and they've had enough," he said.

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, admitted that he wanted the company to be in a "better place".

He said earlier industrial action and the disruption caused by the current programme of modernisation had led to customer dissatisfaction.

However, he added that 500 "tweaks" would be made to the current timetable to help alleviate some of the disruption.

Improve punctuality

He told Good Morning Scotland: "In the next two years we are taking the fleet size from around 800 carriages to a thousand carriages. That is a massive addition of capacity and on some routes, such as Aberdeen to Inverness, capacity will increase by 75%."

He insisted punctuality was improving, particularly over the past four weeks.

"Ending on Saturday, we delivered a punctuality of 90.2%. So considering that our average is around 89.6%, we are consistently now improving our punctuality through a relentless focus on the things that make a difference."

He added: "I am humbled by how patient our customers are.

"When I look at how our customers have responded to the Winchburgh closure, the Queen Street blockade and how our customers have adapted and adjusted their travel patterns. We will continually improve how we run the railway and punctuality will continue to improve."

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