Angry commuters have hit out at ScotRail over the growing number of cancellations and incidents of ‘station-hopping’.
Many say the 7.57am service between Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh is rapidly deteriorating, with commuters being left late for work or appointments.
ScotRail often misses out stops in Fife on the crucial service to Edinburgh, blaming a ‘fault with the train’, however it is understood that the firm cites a lack of carriages as to the reason for ‘station hopping’.
Passengers in Kinghorn, Burntisland, Aberdour, and Dalgety Bay were again hit by cancellations last week, which comes after a string of similar incidents in the run-up to Christmas.
Commuter Sarah Murphy (38) says that the cancellations have a wider impact on people’s lives than just being late.
“It’s just a nightmare, that’s the train that gets everybody into Edinburgh for work.
I’m shocked to start a new job, go for the train, to be unable to get in, and be told a lie saying there’s a fault on the train, because that’s blatantly not true.Sarah Murphy
“Lots of people move to Burntisland and work in Edinburgh, it’s a commuter town with a lot of young families.
“I’ve just started a new job, and I’m going for my train as advertised and it’s not been turning up.
“That’s making me late for work, which isn’t good when you’ve just started a new job.
“I’ve got a childminder who is paid for a set amount of time, and I have to pay extra if I’m late, so that’s having a financial impact on me.
“Being late regularly can have a longer-term impact. It doesn’t look good. that’s a broader impact because you’re looking at getting bad references.
“A lot of people are telling me how it’s impacting on them. Some people are having to work from home or take the car into Edinburgh, and a lot of people have childcare issues.
“I’m pretty new to the morning commute, but from what I have experienced so far it’s pretty horrendous.
“I’m shocked to start a new job, go for the train, to be unable to get in, and be told a lie saying there’s a fault on the train, because that’s blatantly not true.
“There’s a financial impact, and they’re shirking it.”
Burntisland resident Susan Smith said: “I am really disappointed by the bad service on the Fife Circle.
“I can hardly believe that we have to put up with late running trains, taking the smaller stations off their station stops, this now is happening regularly!
“People are stopping using the trains, they are fed up.
“Ticket prices have gone up, the service we get does not merit the price increases.
“It seems worse since Abellio took over.”
Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance is seeking an urgent meeting with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.
He described recent disrutpion to services as “completely unacceptable.”
Mr Torrance said: “I am extremely disappointed at the recent regularity with which ScotRail services on the Fife coastal route have been affected by late running and cancelled services.
“The local community is understandably angry and frustrated at the impact this has had; particularly those who rely on our rail services to travel to work.
“Commuters in Kinghorn and Burntisland have been left stranded following increasingly frequent cancellations and skipped stops in recent weeks - this disruption and uncertainty is completely unacceptable and has to be addressed by ScotRail immediately.
“In December I wrote to the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, highlighting this matter; I have now contacted his office requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the impact this has had on my constituents.
“It is imperative that ScotRail provide an explanation for their consistent failures and clarify what measures will be put in place to ensure a punctual and reliable service in Fife.”
Gordon Langlands, councillor for Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy said: “Some constituents have been in touch about this, and they’re asking all the councillors what they can do.
“The concern is that they’re going to drop Burntisland, Kinghorn and Dalgety Bay off the early morning list.
“That’s a very popular train.
“I’ve been in touch with the office of Lesley Laird and she’s looking to organise a meeting.”
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird, said: “Commuters have made it clear train services between Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh are not fit-for-purpose.
“People who rely on the rail network to get them to work on time and back to collect their children on time are being failed again and again.
“There’s no public confidence in train reliability, the journey on increasingly overcrowded carriages is a misery, and to pay £2000 a year for the privilege is a kick in the teeth.
“Commuters standing on platforms in Burntisland, Kinghorn and Aberdour saw their train speed past them on Thursday morning. That one of the carriages was empty is outrageous.
“Scotrail claimed the practice was to prevent overcrowding on the train which, due to carriage faults ran with three, not five carriages.
“However, the same reason was given for the service skipping those same stations on five mornings in the previous three weeks – a regularity which, I think, throws considerable doubt on “ScotRail’s claim that skipping happens to less than half of one percent of all scheduled stops in Fife.
“Depressingly, passengers report similar shambles across Fife, with people left stranded at stations for over an hour due to cancellations or being ordered off trains because they’re running late.
“It’s a shameful indictment of the state of our train services that some constituents have abandoned train travel all together, stating it is an “impossible” way to get to work on time.
“I’ll be writing to transport minister Humza Yousaf requesting he address constituents’ concerns, as a matter of urgency, and I’ll also be writing to Transport Scotland and Abellio.
“This is a key service for Fife and its commuters and, frankly, right now it is not delivering the service we need and certainly not the service we are paying over the odds for.
“Labour supports nationalisation of the rail network and it seems clear to me that the case for this is stronger than ever.
“Only through nationalisation would we have the power to improve investment, increase rail stock and ensure that every station is served as scheduled and control pricing so that is no longer a post code lottery.”
One councillor challenged Humza Yousaf, Transport Minister, if he’d ever been on a Fife Circle train to see for himself the frustrations experienced by commuters.
Kathleen Leslie’s ward covers Kinghorn and Burntisland – two towns hit by station skipping. Cllr Leslie hit out: “I cannot help but wonder if Mr Yousaf has ever actually been on a Fife Circle train during the morning commute.
“I have received an increasing volume of correspondence from constituents who have been waiting for either the 8.06am or 8.38am from Burntisland to be met with either an overcrowded train or a train that simply bypasses the station.
“Commuters are paying in excess of £2000 for a season ticket and the poor service currently on offer is absolutely deplorable.
“Having recently travelled into Edinburgh from Fife by train I was absolutely shocked at the fact passengers were standing all along the aisles and as many as 11 adults squeezed into the compartment between the two coaches.
Mr Yousaf, however, blamed the weather. He said: “I completely understand the frustration of any passenger who has had their journey impacted by skip stopping. It is why I demanded ScotRail minimise this, particularly during peak times.
“ScotRail has faced a number of challenges, not least the impact of seasonal weather, and this is reflected in their performance. While this is disappointing following several months improvement up until the onset of autumn 2017, we know railway networks across the UK suffer performance dips during autumn and winter.
“My officials are working closely with ScotRail to maintain their previous good progress while facing up to the obvious challenges winter continues to bring.”
Earlier this week ScotRail tried a new tactic of skipping Inverkeithing station rather than Burntisland or Kinghorn.
A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “We know that incidents like this are incredibly frustrating for our customers, which is why they are a last resort to minimise further disruption across the network.
“Following customer feedback, we have reviewed our contingency measures and will continue to do so in order to minimise disruption to our customers in Fife.
“We encourage anyone who arrived at their destination 30 minutes or more late to claim compensation. Simply keep hold of your ticket, and claim on our website.”
Commuters who have a season ticket can pay upwards of £2000 for an annual pass, with many now saying the service has deteriorated rapidly in recent months.
To claim compensation from ScotRail, go to: https://scotrail.delayrepaycompensation.com/index.cfm