ScotRail problems likely to continue past Christmas

ScotRail has come under fire for issues with services.
ScotRail has come under fire for issues with services.

ScotRail services through Fife have continued to worsen this week, with more services being cancelled or delayed, and passengers being packed on like sardines.

And insiders at the rail firm expect the problems to continue until at least next week, citing staff training as the reason behind the continued delays.

Alex Hynes.

Alex Hynes.

The news means disruption and cancellations are likely to continue into Christmas and beyond.

On Monday at least 16 services through Fife were cancelled in just one day, with the reason mostly given as shortage of staff.

Tuesday saw woes continue for passengers with further problems at Kirkcaldy, Kinghorn, Burntisland and Aberdour.

One early morning Kirkcaldy service even left customers fuming after being told the 5.55am southbound from Kirkcaldy was cancelled, only for it to then pass through the station.

Passengers on the platform were then told that the following service, at 6.30am was cancelled, only for it to then show up on time.

While Fife’s problems have already been well-documented, ScotRail has now come under fire at national level over widespread disruption.

ScotRail Alliance managing director Alex Hynes said: “We’re sorry to customers for the disruption to services in recent weeks.

“We know the impact this has on your day, and are working flat out to get things back to normal.”

The firm says the disruption has been caused by two key factors.

It said late delivery of new trains by Hitachi and Wabtec means the training required for their traincrew, on new trains and new routes, has had to be compressed into a very short period of time.

As a result it said day-to-day services have had to be cancelled to allow staff to take part in training.

The rail operator also laid the blame on an industrial dispute, which was resolved almost two weeks ago.

Mr Hynes added: “RMT industrial action meant there was an overtime ban for some of our people, which lasted for several weeks.

“This is now resolved but made the problem of traincrew training worse.

“Training is ongoing so that we can get services back to normal and we can expect an improvement in the coming weeks.

“But while we continue to train our conductors and drivers some disruption will remain.

“We know this isn’t acceptable, and are sorry to customers about this.

“Every single person at the ScotRail Alliance is working hard to improve things for our customers as soon as possible.

“Customers should check @ScotRail on Twitter and visit JourneyCheck.com/scotrail before travelling.”

One ScotRail insider told the Press that as training goes on, the firm expects the problems to be ongoing until things settle down in the next few weeks. He said: “We do expect improvement next week. But it’ll be a few weeks before things are completely back to where we want them to be. In terms of the training we’re still playing catch-up due to the late delivery of thtrains and the RMT action.”