17 Days Remaining

Monday 28th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

SCOTTISH Labour revealed yesterday that almost 50 trains a day are cancelled or severely delayed on Scotland’s railways, amid mounting calls for the rail network to return to public ownership.

Figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) showed that a daily average of 49 trains had been cancelled or delayed by more than half an hour since Dutch operator Abellio took over the ScotRail contract in April 2015.

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby MSP said: “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.”

The party is calling for more to be done to compensate passengers for late and cancelled trains, and has launched a campaign for rail fares to be frozen in 2017, a proposal that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to consider.

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

However, Kevin Lindsay, Scottish secretary of train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “Performance doesn’t seem to be improving since the improvement plan was put in place and the Transport Minister still doesn’t have a grip of the situation.

“Passengers are still suffering and it’s time that the railways were nationalised,” he told the Star.

A ScotRail spokeswoman said the company operated more than 2,300 services a day and punctuality stood at 89.8 per cent, compared with 87.9 per cent for operators in England and Wales.

She said: “There is no doubt that we need to deliver better punctuality and reliability.

But transport union TSSA hopes the growing public anger can drive Scotland’s railways back into public hands and is launching a campaign to achieve it in the new year.

General secretary Manuel Cortes accused Abellio of treating Scotland as a “corporate goldmine” and called on Holyrood to strip the company of its franchise.