Pas­sen­ger mis­ery as Abel­lio vow falls short


Craig McDon­ald Un­der-fire Abel­lio have failed to de­liver a string of prom­ises since tak­ing over the run­ning of ScotRail.

The fran­chise op­er­a­tors, part of the Dutch state rail firm NS, as­sumed con­trol of Scot­land’s rail­ways in April 2015 and vowed to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble ser­vice for cus­tomers.

Abel­lio pledged bet­ter punc­tu­al­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity and rolling stock as well as vow­ing to of­fer fair prices and tackle plat­form queues.

But anal­y­sis of the five key ar­eas to­day shows users face a ser­vice which in many cases is get­ting worse, not bet­ter.

A Sun­day Mail poll of pas­sen­gers in Glas­gow and Stir­ling also re­vealed those who use ScotRail have lost faith in the op­er­a­tor ful­fill­ing their prom­ises. ScotRail vowed in 2016: “We need to de­liver bet­ter punc­tu­al­ity.”

Be­lea­guered pas­sen­gers and com­muters were promised im­prove­ments in punc­tu­al­ity two years ago as the fail­ing ser­vice came un­der the spot­light.

Yet ScotRail’s own per­for­mance f ig­ures, which we re­vealed on Novem­ber 25, show the worst punc­tu­al­ity lev­els since Abel­lio took over.

The rail op­er­a­tors stated two years ago that “around nine out of 10 trains run to time” but fig­ures last month – the poor­est in more than a decade – show per for­mance has plum­meted and one in five ser­vices failed to ar­rive on time.

At the two worst-per­form­ing sta­tions, Largs and Mil­ngavie, 75 per cent of trains were late. ScotRail told us in Novem­ber 2016 there was “no doubt that we need to de­liver bet­ter re­li­a­bil­ity”.

More re­li­able ser­vices – mean­ing a crack­down on can­cel la­tions – were promised. But off icial sta­tis­tics on Thurs­day con­firmed this area was also con­tin­u­ing to plum­met.

The Off ice of Road and Rail f ig­ures showed 3.2 per cent of trains last quar­ter were can­celled or sig­nif­i­cantly late, com­pared with 2.2 per cent the pre­vi­ous year.

The fig­ures are the worst for this time of year since 2003.

ScotRail faced crit­i­cism in Par­lia­ment on Tues­day for can­celling ser­vices for staff train­ing. Trans­port Sec­re­tary Michael Math­e­son said the move was “unacceptable”. ScotRail said in 2016: “Our largest- ever Train Im­prove­ment Pro­gramme will de­liver new and bet­ter trains, with more seats and cus­tomer ben­e­fits.”

Abel­lio pledged to in­vest mil­lions in rolling stock to pro­vide the most mod­ern fleet of trains the coun­try has ever had.

But the roll-out of the new 385 class trains has been plagued by prob­lems and de­lays.

Pas­sen­gers on one of the busiest lines, from In­ver­clyde to Glas­gow, face yet an­other winter on draughty old trains, which have been run­ning since the 70s.

ScotRail said in 2015: “We’ve in­stalled an ad­di­tional ticket booth at Glas­gow Cen­tral to as­sist cus­tomers who ar­rive with­out tick­ets and need to buy them on ar­rival.”

Pas­sen­gers have been complaining for three years over early-morn­ing queues to get out of Scot­land’s busiest sta­tion.

ScotRail said then they would work to

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