Fife ScotRail services may not be fixed until December

Lesley Laird and Alex Hynes.
Lesley Laird and Alex Hynes.

Fifers are facing another nine months of rail misery after ScotRail chief Executive Alex Hynes said that it may be as late as December before peak-time services improve.

The news came as he was grilled by a room of angry Fifers in a public meeting in Kirkcaldy last night.

Some people were unable to make the meeting because their trains had been cancelled.

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Tonight will also see two services cancelled, while another is reduced from five to two carriages.

The 17:44 Edinburgh to Glenrothes With Thornton is reduced, while the 18:13 Edinburgh to Glenrothes and 19:11 Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy have been cancelled due to a lack of train crew.

At last night’s meeting, pushed by questions from the crowd, Mr Hynes said: “The strengthening trains, making the trains longer, is contingent on the delivery of these new trains, so it makes it very difficult to give you a cast-iron guarrantee.

“I know promises have been made in the past, but we are hoping to strengthen, or make longer, the off-peak trains in May, but making peak trains longer could come as late as December.”

Throughout the meeting, Mr Hynes told the crowd on numerous occasions that ScotRail knows it has let Fifers down and it needs to do better.

He laid the blame squarely at the door of Hitachi, which is apparently late in delivering new trains.

One woman said she’d regularly been left in a compromising position due to overcrowding.

She said: “Sexual impropriety happens everyday, but the way we are crammed in, we’re closer than we would be if we were both sitting. I often come nose-to-his-zip with a gentleman when seated next to people standing.”

One man told Mr Hynes: “I don’t think you acknowledge how bad it is.

“It’s so much more than just an invonvenience. It’s people losing jobs, missing exams. I’ve witnessed people fainting several times.”

When Mr Hynes encouraged commuters to apply for compensation, one man said he pays around £20 for a ticket, but will get little more than £2 compensation.

One woman told hos seeing ScotRail “boasting on twitter” about great the new trains are on Glasgow line while Fifers have reduced carriages and cancelled services.

She added: “It makes it feel like we’re forgotten about.”

Mr Hynes replied: “You’re not forgotten about. Improving Fife service is top of our agenda.”

“We’ve stood here for an hour listening to you say it’s getting better. How can you expect us to pay extraordinary money if you say the service isn’t better?

Meanwhile, Mr Hynes said on the way to the meeting he experienced some of the problems Fifers had been living with, including overcrowding.

The meeting was hosted by Kirkcaldy adn Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird, who said after the meeting: “I think there are real fundimental issues around the fact we are paying more than other areas.

“But I think right now a reduction is really what is required on this line.

“We’ve been putting up with thes issues now through 2018. We now may not see them fully resolved until the end of 2019.

“I really think it’s unreasonable for Fife commutters to continue to pay way over the odds for what is a shoddy and a shabby service right now.

“We’ve seen tonight that was the mood here with the public.

“I think the main takeaway sare that the problem won’t be fixed as soon as we thought and it could be the end of the year. The price issue is a real concern. the compensation is not adequate for the inconvenience it is causing.”

“It’s really not good enough, so we will be continuing to follow-up and engage in that dialogue with Alex Hynes and ScotRail to get these issues resolved.”

When asked about another meeting, Ms Laird said: “There will definitely be a sequel, and there might even be more than one. I think this is an ongoing dialogue and we need to stick at this until we get the issues resolved.

“I think we need to have a meeting probably by the summer. They’ve got some committments they would expect to happen by May so I think it would be appropriate to pick up in June and see what#s happened.

“After tonight we want a plan and a timetable of what he thinks the sequence of events are that he’ll be able to deliver on, and I think we then hold ScotRail to account on that.”

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