Slow train com­ing... in spite of up­grade

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Gavin Made­ley

TRAINS on Scot­land’s flag­ship com­muter line are get­ting slower again only a year after an £858mil­lion up­grade in­tended to speed them up.

The num­ber of weekday ser­vices run­ning on the Glas­gow to Ed­in­burgh route in the fastest time of 42 min­utes will be re­duced from ten to four from next month due to the ‘sheer vol­ume’ of traf­fic on the line.

Most of the af­fected train jour­neys will take be­tween one to three min­utes longer un­der new timetablin­g changes due to take ef­fect from De­cem­ber 16.

The slow­down comes de­spite ScotRail an­nounc­ing that 42-minute jour­neys would soon be­come the norm for most off-peak trains.

But the train op­er­a­tor has now said that the high num­ber of trains on the net­work – in­clud­ing those ser­vic­ing other Scot­tish routes – has made that am­bi­tion im­pos­si­ble.

The route via Falkirk High – known as the E&G – has been elec­tri­fied to speed up jour­neys by us­ing faster-ac­cel­er­at­ing class 385 trains. Plat­form length­en­ing has en­abled longer trains to run, with peak-hour ser­vices in­creased to eight car­riages.

In De­cem­ber last year, av­er­age jour­ney times were cut from 51 to 47 min­utes. But only two out of the 120 daily ser­vices be­tween the ci­ties achieved the 42-minute jour­ney time. That to­tal in­creased to ten in May – nearly all of them to Glas­gow – and was due to rise fur­ther.

The Gov­ern­ment’s Trans­port Scot­land agency said last Oc­to­ber: ‘As we in­tro­duce even more class 385s to the ScotRail fleet, we can ex­pect the May and De­cem­ber 2019 timetable changes to in­clude fur­ther ser­vices with a 42-minute jour­ney time.’ The fol­low­ing month, ScotRail man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Alex Hynes told MSPs: ‘The stan­dard ser­vice pat­tern will be 42 min­utes wher­ever pos­si­ble.’

Scot­tish Lib­eral Demo­crat trans­port spokesman Mike Rum­bles con­demned the slower train times, say­ing: ‘ScotRail promised pas­sen­gers fast train trips be­tween Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow.

‘Those rail users will now rightly be fu­ri­ous to find the piti­ful num­ber of trips be­ing run to this stan­dard sched­ule is be­ing fur­ther re­duced. Th­ese 42-minute trips were sup­posed to be the stan­dard ser­vice wher­ever pos­si­ble.’

A ScotRail spokesman said: ‘We try to de­liver faster jour­neys in ev­ery timetable change. But this can’t be at the detri­ment of per­for­mance. The sheer vol­ume of traf­fic on the E&G means it’s not pos­si­ble to de­liver ev­ery sin­gle jour­ney as a 42-minute jour­ney.’

A source stressed that the op­er­a­tor was com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing a ‘more re­li­able and ro­bust’ timetable and pointed out that the open­ing of a new sta­tion at Ro­broys­ton on the E&G line and ad­di­tional ser­vices north would have an im­pact on the speed of the net­work.

He added: ‘We want to be hon­est about what the net­work can pro­vide. Although the num­ber of 42-minute jour­neys will de­crease, there are many jour­neys at the 43 and 44-minute mark.’

‘Rail users will be fu­ri­ous’

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