MSPs push ScotRail chief for urgent action on Fife trains

Fife SNP  MSPs meet Alex Hynes, chief executive of Scotrail. From left: David Torrance, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Alex Hynes, Annabelle Ewing, Jenny Gilruth
Fife SNP MSPs meet Alex Hynes, chief executive of Scotrail. From left: David Torrance, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Alex Hynes, Annabelle Ewing, Jenny Gilruth

Fife politicians have pressed ScotRail’s boss for urgent action to improve the company’s woeful service on the circle line.

Commuters from the Kingdom have endured delays, cancellations, and trains running with fewer carriages than expected, sparking a backlash against the train operator.

Now Fife’s SNP MSPs have set out the improvements they want to see in a face to face meeting with Alex Hynes, ScotRail’s chief executive.

They want immediate improvements on the Fife Circle line until normal services as restored.

They also want more information for commuters on cancellations or trains running with fewer carriages than normal – and to provide replacement buses for services that don’t run.

ScotRail has endured a torrent of criticism as crew shortages have hit scheduled services.

Driver training has been one of the major issues, while there is also a dispute with rail union RMT over rest day working and overtime.

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Mr Torrance said: “Professional change management is a reasonable expectation from a train operator – Fife passengers have not seen that.”

He noted Scotrail’s punctuality rating was above average in a UK context, but said that Scottish Government investment in rail travel was significant, and he wanted to see a return.

He added: “In recent weeks I have received complaints about cancellations, delays, stop skipping and overcrowding. I expect service levels to be sufficiently reliable and affordable to allow constituents to commute with confidence to Edinburgh, Perth or Dundee to work or study. Fife passengers need to see improvements, and fast.”

Ms Gilruth, said Scotrail had let Fifers down across the festive period, but this wasn’t a new issue.

“Those of us who regularly commute from stations like Markinch will know that services have been particularly affected over the December period,” she said. “We were all assured that the Kingdom is an absolute priority for ScotRail, but we now need to see concrete action.

“I am glad that ScotRail have committed to provide season ticket holders with free travel on anywhere in the country for six weekends over the course of the next 3 months. Compensation is also available to anyone delayed by more than 30 minutes by the Delay Repay Guarantee.

“Notwithstanding, Fife has been adversely affected by cancellations and delays over the festive period. I would encourage any constituents to get in touch with my office directly if they have been affected.

“ScotRail now have a duty to improve our services. I will be watching carefully to ensure they do so.”