Scotland politics

Scottish Labour highlights rail disruption figures

scotrail Image copyright PA

Nearly 50 trains a day are cancelled or "significantly" delayed on Scotland's railways, according to analysis by Scottish Labour.

It highlighted official data showing an average of 1,360 trains were cancelled or arrived more than 30 minutes late during every four-week period.

It said that equated to an average of 49 trains every day since Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise in 2015.

ScotRail said it was focused on delivering the best possible service.

Transport Scotland said that despite "recent challenges", the performance of rail services in Scotland was higher than the UK average.

Scottish Labour obtained the figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

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

On Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would consider freezing the country's train fares next year amid concern over the reliability of ScotRail services.

She was responding to a Labour proposal to freeze fares in order to "give passengers a break".

Image copyright Andrew Milligan
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon has said she will consider freezing the country's train fares next year

Scottish Labour's transport spokesman Neil Bibby said the new figures were "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," he said.

"With so much disruption on the railways, it is clear passengers do not feel they are getting a fair deal."

A spokeswoman for ScotRail said it operated more than 2,300 services a day, with punctuality at 89.8% compared with 87.9% for operators in England and Wales.

She said: "We are going through the biggest change and improvement in our railway infrastructure since the Victorian era.

"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.

Image caption ScotRail said the company's performance improvement plan contained 246 individual actions

"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."

The spokeswoman said the company's performance improvement plan contained 246 individual actions "to make things better, every single day".

She added: "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."

'Punctuality improving'

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: "To put these numbers in perspective, ScotRail operates around 58,700 services every four weeks.

"It is also important to remember that, despite recent challenges, the performance of rail services in Scotland is higher than the UK average, with almost 90% of trains running on time and punctuality improving in the last eight weeks.

"Cancellations and trains missing the delay target (arriving within five minutes), are both counted in the calculation of the PPM measurement - a key performance measure in the ScotRail contract.

"ScotRail services remain almost 2% above the GB average."

The spokesman added: "The minister for transport has instructed ScotRail to bring forward an improvement plan and he outlined the key actions and investments the operator will make in order to lift its performance and meet passenger expectations in his statement to parliament earlier this week."

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