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Saturday 19th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

TRAIN drivers’ union Aslef has called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to sack “incompetent” Transport Minister Humza Yousaf in the wake of Scotland’s ongoing “rail crisis.”

The call follows months of severe delays and disruptions across ScotRail services, which led to Transport Scotland forcing ScotRail to produce an improvement plan in September.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan branded the Scottish government’s response to the situation “pathetic” and said Mr Yousaf “stood by while Abellio ScotRail takes Scotland’s passengers and taxpayers for a ride.”

Mr Whelan called on Ms Sturgeon to take personal responsibility for this situation as it was her government that had awarded the contract to the company.

He also urged Ms Sturgeon to “sack her incompetent Transport Minister” and “do the decent thing and return the railway to public ownership.”

However, Mr Yousaf insisted on his right to stay in the post, saying he was “committed” to his job and “monitoring things absolutely closely.”

A train breakdown in Edinburgh during Thursday morning’s rush hour caused travel chaos for commuters, and Ms Sturgeon apologised for the disruption after Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale raised the issue at First Minister’s questions.

The train came to a halt between Waverley and Haymarket stations, which was “probably the worst place in the country” for it to happen, ScotRail told the First Minister.

New figures revealed that ScotRail’s “public performance measure” fell to 72.5 per cent following the breakdown, and on express services the measure was only 50.8 per cent, which means that only half of trains arrived or terminated within five minutes of their scheduled arrival time.

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby MSP said Mr Yousaf was “losing the confidence of the travelling public and the men and women who drive Scotland’s trains.”

Mr Bibby called for passengers to be adequately compensated and for improvements to be made quickly.

Ministers have warned ScotRail it could lose the contract if train performance does not improve.

Mr Yousaf told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that the option to terminate the contract was there.

However, he added: “I don’t think we’re at that stage, but certainly all options are on the table.”

ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster apologised for the delays and pledged to learn from the Edinburgh breakdown.

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