ScotRail failing Fife: 8 things we learned from last night’s meeting

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

It was an interesting meeting, tense at times with occasional laughter and Fifers told their frustrations to ScotRail chief executive Alex Hynes.

The meeting at Kirkcaldy Town Hall, hosted my Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird, saw Fifers packed into the meeting room (though thankfully everyone got a seat).

Here's the main points you need to know:

1. Fifers are ANGRY!

And rightly so. The meeting saw a number of commuters struggle to contain their frustrations as they told Alex Hynes how their lives have been impacted.

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The meeting heard from people who had been snubbed for jobs in Edinburgh because they rely on ScotRail. The obvious concerns of cancelled services, jam-packed train, poor communication, and health and safety were raised again and again. It’s not unusual to see someone faint on an overcrowded train.

There was outright laughter among the crowd when Alex Hynes said stop-skipping had improved.

2. ScotRail know it's not good enough.

They keep acknowledging it, over and over. In press releases, on tv and in social media, but last night we heard Alex Hynes say it countless times. He says the issue is simply that there are no more carriages to put on.

3. ScotRail are absolutely sure that the blame lies with Hitachi.

Again, we heard this over and over. In the coming months, ScotRail hope Hitachi’s delivery of the new trains will make a difference

They're pressing them to get the trains finished, but is there a timeframe?

4. ScotRail say it may be December before peak trains are lengthened.

You read that right. There were gasps when Alex Hynes said this. While we may see a reduced number of carriages on our trains, hoping for the problem to go away overnight would appear unrealistic. The word “December” seemed to take the air out of the room. Later, when being asked by the Press to elaborate on this timeframe he was evasive and vague, and his accompanying PR man was keen to ensure we didn’t press him with too many questions.

5. Alex Hynes doesn’t want us to video him.

Strange one. We wanted to bring our readers a video clip of Alex Hynes’ responses to our questions after the meeting, but he and his PR man declined. Who knows why?

6. Fifers are unlikely to feel any better after that meeting.

There were more questions than answers here. One man got up and left when he felt Hynes had been evading his question.

Others stated and pressed Hynes on prices. If he knows it’s not good enough then why is he continuing to charge full price for a poorer service? It was a valid question thrust at him a few times but the best he could offer was that he felt prices needed to be overhauled.

7. There could well be a sequel.

One member of the public stood to ask if, rather than just show up for a PR exercise, would Hynes put his money where his mouth is and come back in six months to see if improvements have been made. He certainly made all the right noises.

8. Move over Riki Lake! Lesley Laird should get her own talk show.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Lesley Laird was auditioning for her own talk show.

She moved through the crowd and passed the microphone to give as many people as possible a say, and her guidance and ability to keep the meeting structured throughout the night meant that anger didn’t spill over and turn a respectable Oprah show into a chaotic Jerry Springer episode.