Greens raise rail concerns
Concerned politicians fire off letter
Stirlingshire Green politicians have written to the Transport Secretary to raise public concerns over rail services.
Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell and Dunblane and Bridge of Allan Councillor Alasdair Tollemache co-signed the letter, requesting an urgent meeting with Michael Matheson, who has been Cabinet Secretary for Transport since June.
The letter comes after 130 frequent rail passengers attended two public meetings on Monday in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan.
Residents expressed concern over the new timetable which is due to come into effect on Sunday.
“Widespread dissatisfaction with the current service was evident at both meetings, with a number of contributors expressing the need to take the service hours in advance to ensure they arrive at work on time,or collect their children from nursery, as the service is so unreliable”, the Greens’ letter reads.
The Greens also blasted rail operators for not consulting the public prior to drafting up a new timetable and added: “As far as we can ascertain, neither Scotrail nor Network Rail has conducted any public consultation prior to the introduction of the new timetable.”
The letter also claims that many of those who attended Monday’s meetings were not aware of any changes to the timetable and continues: “Why have these important changes been so poorly communicated? Can you advise why Scotrail do not use their alert system to consult with the public, and advise passengers of timetable changes?”
Overcrowding on services was also touched upon. The letter states: “You are aware of the serious overcrowding on services between Edinburgh and Dunblane, an issue that has inconvenienced many of our constituents. Experiences of passengers fainting on packed services were highlighted at the meeting. The situation has now been exacerbated, as we understand staff have been removed from services for training.”
Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford has also written his own letter to Scotrail slamming the rail company over proposed timetable changes.
He said: “Commuters want a train service that is reliable, easy to use and fast. I’m afraid that on a number of occasions, this new timetable achieves the opposite.”
Stephen Kerr, MP for Stirling, also called the timetable changes “apalling” and said that commuters should be compensated.
Meanwhile Mid Scotland and Fife Tory MSP Alexander Stewart, who also attended the public meetings, questioned Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Matheson on the timetable changes.
He said: “These changes will put my constituents at a severe disadvantage who travel from Dunblane to Edinburgh and Dunblane to Glasgow with a loss of peak time trains. I asked how this could be justified for hard working families and commuters who will also have to endure a fare increase in January which will mean that they will have to pay more to get less.”
Mr Matheson blamed the ongoing industrial action plus rolling stock and electrification issues for the problems.
But Mr Stewart said: “These will only come to fruition in May 2019 and the timetable will be ongoing until December 2019. In the meantime, my constituents will be forced to suffer further undue and undeserved hardship whilst paying more than good money to ScotRail for its increased fares and shoddy service. This is patently not right and I will keep the pressure up on both the Scottish Government and ScotrailAbellio until something is resolved for good.”
Packed meeting timetable Commuters expressed their anger over the new train