Pas­sen­gers rail at prob­lems with trains

The Oban Times - - News - AMANDA CRAW­FORD fort@oban­times.co.uk

A TRAIN jour­ney to Mal­laig that was dis­rupted and re­placed with a poorly or­gan­ised bus ser­vice, has been branded em­bar­rass­ing by a lo­cal coun­cil­lor.

Pas­sen­gers were forced to aban­don one of the most scenic travel routes in the world on the Glas­gow to Mal­laig train.

Tourists were re­port­edly left con­fused as they had to leave the train at Fort Wil­liam when in­formed there was no staff for the last leg of the jour­ney to Mal­laig.

Trav­ellers were forced to head for buses, but were left un­aware when a bus might ap­pear, as no mem­bers of staff had in­formed them where to go.

Pas­sen­ger, Rod McCul­lagh, found him­self in the midst of the com­mo­tion on Fri­day. In an an­gry email to rail­way bosses and an ex­ten­sive list of MSPs, he said: ‘Even­tu­ally, the buses ar­rived but bore no des­ti­na­tion in­for­ma­tion. Amongst the mêlée of un­in­formed pas­sen­gers, the Scotrail per­son was qui­etly-spo­ken and thus in­audi­ble to most of the crowd.

‘No one seemed to have an­tic­i­pated that the cus­tomer would want to know where the buses were leav­ing from, go­ing to, whether there was a train ser­vice down the road, how long was the jour­ney, would there be re­fresh­ment or toi­let stops. Just no clear in­for­ma­tion for folk who had bought tick­ets for a train ride.’

The ab­sence of driv­ers on Fri­day added to the frus­tra­tions of pas­sen­gers who could not travel on Tues­day due to flood wa­ter on the tracks.

Coun­cil­lor Allan Hen­der­son’s said: ‘This is a wholly un­ac­cept­able po­si­tion and a sad re­flec­tion on the new fran­chise holder. We were able to make al­lowances for the Tues­day, with the ad­verse weather, but not staff short­ages at the busiest time of the year. This is re­ally un­fair on pas­sen­gers. Whether staff short­age are cov­ered from Mal­laig, Fort Wil­liam or Achar­a­cle is ir­rel­e­vant, there sim­ply must be staff avail­able at the cor­rect time to move pas­sen­gers. This is re­ally em­bar­rass­ing to all of us in the tourist in­dus­try and no way to run a com­pany.’

While Scotrail usu­ally has a num­ber of spare driv­ers at each de­pot, this time there were too many ab­sences for it to cover, which led to the can­cel­la­tion of ser­vices ear­lier last week and on Fri­day.

A Scotrail Al­liance spokesman said: ‘We are sorry for the higher-than-nor­mal level of dis­rup­tion to Mal­laig ser­vices in re­cent weeks, caused by driver sick­ness and flash flood­ing. We have al­ready taken steps to ad­dress this and other is­sues.’

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Flood wa­ter on the track and staff short­ages caused train dis­rup­tions

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