Scotrail’s £5 ticket apology branded ‘a very poor gesture’

Pic: Ian Georgeson
Pic: Ian Georgeson

Rail bosses have been told their £5 discount ticket apology to fed-up Fife commuters isn’t good enough.

It was branded ‘‘a very poor gesture’’ by one councillor – because it won’t help season ticket holders travelling during the rush hour.

The two-month gesture was Scotrail’s way of acknowledging their performance on the Kingdom’s busy routes has been poor.

They have come under sustained fire for overcrowded trains, delays and the infuriating policy of station skipping where trains are instructed, mid-journey, not to stop at key stations such as Aberdour, Kinghorn and Burntisland, leaving passengers inconvenienced.

The discount scheme will run from April 16 to June 15, but it will only be available off-peak, meaning it is of no use to rush hour commuters who have faced the worst of the problems.

The £5 return fare will operate on trains to Edinburgh and Dundee.

But Councillor Kathleen Leslie, whose ward includes Burntisland and Kinghorn, where station skipping has impacted on commuters, said the company had to do more.

She said: “A £5 travel ticket for off-peak journeys to Edinburgh and Dundee on the part of Scotrail is a very poor gesture.

‘‘Passengers contacting me over the December-January period were commuters who were being faced with delays, cancellations and trains skipping stations.

‘‘A travel ticket for off-peak journeys is one way for Scotrail to generate some revenue for quieter times during the day.

‘‘However, it is of absolutely no use to long-suffering commuters who pay in excess of £2,000 a year for an abysmal and completely unreliable service.’’

She also called on the Scottish Government to ‘‘put some real pressure on Scotrail-Abellio to up their game and provide a decent train service with more carriages and no station-skipping for Fife commuters.”

The discount travel apology was unveiled during a Facebook Live session hosted by Claire Baker MSP with bosses from the rail company.

Angus Thom, ScotRail’s chief operating officer, said: “We need to fix Fife and give a better and more reliable service. If we could fix them right now, trust us, we would.”

He said commuters would enjoy the benefits of improvements on the rail network in 2019, and the new discount travel initiative was a way of acknowledging recent problems.

He said there may also be more carriages to tackle the persistent complaints of overcrowding.

“There will be no improvement for Fife in the next timetable change in May,” he added. ‘‘We won’t have the rolling stock we would like to make a big difference in Fife but that’s not to say there’s nothing we can do now.”

Mrs Baker welcomed Scotrail’s £5 travel and commitments to deliver a better service, but said they were still too long in coming.

“They’re reducing the number of stations they skip now and are starting to make progress on that but we won’t see a difference in capacity until next year,” she said.

“I welcome the acknowledgement the Fife circle hasn’t been good enough and that people deserve a better service but I think we’re having to wait too long for it.

“Next year is a long time to wait for improvements Scotrail recognise are needed.”