Slow train coming... in spite of upgrade
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’