Misery plagues commuters after ScotRail failure

ScotRail trains, Edinburgh Waverley Station. Picture; Jane Barlow

ScotRail trains, Edinburgh Waverley Station. Picture; Jane Barlow

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FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has apologised to commuters after the train fiasco which caused chaos to thousands of people travelling to and from the capital.

All four lines were blocked coming in and out of the city after the 7.15am Edinburgh to Glasgow Central train suffered a major failure at a main junction near Princes Street Gardens.

The First Minister accepted responsibility on behalf of the government for the incident at the “worst place in the country for a breakdown” to happen.

“I repeat the apology caused by this extraordinary set of circumstances,” Ms Sturgeon said at First Minister’s questions.

Humza Yousaf, transport minister said he expected ScotRail to improve on its current performance in line with its contractual obligations. He said: “The First Minister and I have both sought assurances at the highest level in Abellio ScotRail that everything possible is being done regards contingency planning to resolve future incidents quickly and efficiently.”

Furious commuters slammed ScotRail for a lack of communication during the incident. John Paul Fitzpatrick, 42, travels from Glasgow to Edinburgh several times a week on a journey that normally takes him 40 minutes.

“I was on the 7.15am from Glasgow, turfed off at Linlithgow and stood in rain for an hour and a half with no information, no replacement buses and then finally got on a train at 9.40am and got into work at 10.45am.

“It has been a while since there has been this kind of delay but they are increasingly common and the most frustrating bit is the lack of information – no communication is worse than things being late, at least you can plan.”

James Stewart, who regularly travels through Haymarket to Inverkeithing, said: “The organisation and ability of Abellio to react to a crisis is lamentable. Unprecedented incidents occur but there was no communication, particularly to the staff on the ground who were trying to deal with customers, announcements were impossible to hear and the information screens were struggling to keep up.”

He said he arrived at work three hours after he started his journey, adding: “The basic running of the service since Abellio took over the franchise is an abomination.”

Natalia Zozula meanwhile ended up ditching the train and using a tram to get to the centre of town. She said: “I pay nearly £300 for a monthly ticket and I still have to waste money on trams/buses. ScotRail is shocking and I am really disappointed with the lack of communication. And all I can do is claim for a ticket but what about the hours I’ve lost at work?”

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance said it was the worst incident he had experienced since being in post and insisted ScotRail would learn from it.

“I know that what people want when disruption happens is to have access to good quality information”, he said.

“We will be having a thorough review of this incident to see what worked and what didn’t.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk