Don’t cut Fife trains to suit Border link

Concerns have been raised about Fife services
Concerns have been raised about Fife services

Concerns have been raised that Fife rail services could see a reduction in the numbers of trains and carriages available due to the new Borders Railway.

Claire Baker, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has written to the managing director of Abellio ScotRail, Phil Verster, expressing her concerns following an answer given by Transport Minister Derek Mackay to a written question.

We are confident that Fife customers will experience no capacity issues as a result of the Borders railway opening

He had been asked by Rhoda Grant MSP from “which ScotRail services the Borders Railway rolling stock will be drawn”, and the minister replied that the trains “planned to be used on Borders services also work across other routes in central Scotland, including, predominantly, Fife”.

In her letter to Mr Verster, Ms Baker is seeking further details on how the Borders Railway would impact on local commuters. She fears Fife will be penalised to ensure the needs of another part of the ScotRail franchise is met and it could potentially lead to a reduction in carriages and seats.

Ms Baker said: “I had hoped that when the ScotRail franchise transferred from First to Abellio that Fife services would no longer find itself being cut to plug gaps elsewhere but the answer from the Transport Minister seems to indicate otherwise.

“Once again it looks like it will be Fife commuters that will be disproportionately hit and questions have to be asked as to why it is consistently the Fife Circle that is hit with carriage reductions.

“The opening of Borders Railway should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially Abellio who were awarded the contract after work on the new line was already well underway.

“We have the iconic, and now UNESCO awarded, bridge over the Forth, we must now ensure that the line is fully serviced for the people of Fife.”

ScotRail confirmed planned diesel rolling stock to be used on the Borders route has been made available through electrification of three Glasgow routes, freeing up stock to be used elsewhere. A number of Borders services will operate to and from Fife, particularly in the peak periods. A spokesman said: “We are confident that Fife customers will experience no capacity issues as a result of the Borders railway opening. As we do elsewhere in Scotland, we will continue to allocate our train fleet to minimise crowding across all our routes.”