Scotland politics

ScotRail payouts to passengers hit £2,000 a day

scotrail Image copyright PA
Image caption ScotRail encourages passengers to claim back money for delayed services

ScotRail had to pay out more than £2,000 a day in compensation to passengers during a period of disruption to services.

Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives showed the firm paid out £587,572 from April to December 2016.

The majority of the cash was handed out for delayed trains, while some was a "gesture of goodwill".

A spokesman for ScotRail said it encouraged passengers to claim back money for delayed services.

The data, obtained under freedom of information rules, showed that 40,002 passengers were paid compensation over the nine-month period.

Goodwill gestures

Of this, £340,000 was for delayed services, £178,000 was to passengers who felt the agreed level of service was not reached, and £52,000 as a "gesture of goodwill".

The largest number of claims came in December, when 9,224 cases were settled, with a total value of £94,878.67.

During the period in question, services were disrupted on a number of occasions due to breakdowns and by engineering works aimed at improving rail infrastructure. A "free week" of discounts for regular travellers is planned for 2017 to thank customers for their patience.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The ScotRail franchise was taken over by Abellio in April 2015

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Liam Kerr said it was "vital the situation on Scotland's railways is sorted out".

He said: "The rising cost of compensation appears to reflect the nosedive in quality and reliability experienced by passengers on Scotland's trains.

"It's no surprise the bill has surpassed £500,000 for the last nine months when you consider the problems on our railways."

Statistics have shown the reliability of ScotRail services increasing since an improvement plan was published.

'Punctual and reliable'

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: "We are completely supportive of Delay Repay because it compensates passengers for delays and our performance improvement plan is all about making our service punctual and reliable.

"We will continue to encourage passengers who've been delayed to claim back the portion of their ticket price that is rightfully theirs and have made the claiming process simple and speedy.

"Due to the ongoing investment and improvement of the railway network across the country, there have been more delays than normal and we're compensating customers as a result."

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "We acknowledge that there have been issues in respect of ScotRail's performance which has fallen below the standards required by the franchise contract.

"However, ScotRail has developed and implemented a performance improvement plan and we are encouraged to see that performance in this period is significantly better than the last, and above the same period last year."

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