Call to bring ScotRail under public ownership

Claire Baker.
Claire Baker.

ScotRail’s poor performance has sparked a call to bring the railway into public ownership, after figures showed that 110 peak time services were cancelled in a five-month period.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker has called for the Scottish Government to use the break clause in ScotRail’s franchise agreement to bring the railway into public ownership.

According to figures released after a Freedom of Information Request, 110 peak time services between Kirkcaldy, Cardenden and Edinburgh were cancelled between April and September.

And 42% of these cancellations occurred between Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy in the evening, with 31% occurring between Edinburgh and Cardenden at the same time of the day.

ScotRail have also regularly failed to meet their Public Performance Measure, which is met when a train arrives at its destination on time, or within 5 minutes of schedule. According to the franchise agreement, ScotRail’s ‘Moving Annual Average’ for punctuality must be above 88.22% or it risks breach of contract.

Despite this, evening peak time services from Edinburgh calling at Kirkcaldy fell below this every month between April and September. With the Edinburgh evening peak time services calling at Cardenden fell below it in June, July and August.

A Freedom of Information request has shown that the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland have agreed to waive ScotRail’s franchise performance benchmarks until June 2019.

Some of the worst services include the 5.02pm Edinburgh-Dundee train calling at Kirkcaldy, which was only on time in June in 55% of cases and for only 56% of services in August and September. The 5.41pm Edinburgh-Inverness service calling at Kirkcaldy was only on time on 54% of occasions in June. In July, the 5.55pm Edinburgh-Glenrothes service calling at Cardenden was only on time in 58% instance sand in July and August the 6.25pm Edinburgh-Glenrothes service was only on time 63% of the time.

Ms Baker said: “We have known for some time that Fife commuters are having to deal with delayed, cancelled or over-crowded trains and spiralling high ticket prices.

“For far too long, Fife has had to deal with a second-class rail service that is far below the standard we should expect.

“Yet despite repeated concerns raised by passengers, politicians and campaigns, we seem to be no closer to getting a rail service that we deserve. There has simply far too many cancellations and late running trains over the past 6 months and action needs to be taken.

“It is no wonder that passengers are frustrated. The latest statistics shows that evening peak time services between Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh and Cardenden are regularly late.

“As commuters rush home from work, many will have appointments to make or children to pick up from childcare. One single cancellation or late running train could be all that it takes for parents to incur late fees from their local nursery.

“Yet these shocking figures are unlikely to get any better. The SNP Government have simply given ScotRail a licence to fail by waiving their performance benchmarks.

“Instead of punishing ScotRail for breaching its contract, the SNP Government are simply content to let them off the hook and let commuters continue to suffer.”

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