Edinburgh shop boss won’t hire rail travellers due to Scotrail disruption

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An Edinburgh businessman has vowed to never employ another rail commuter because a key member of his staff has been repeatedly delayed by ScotRail disruption.

It comes as passengers waited to see whether the train operator’s biggest timetable shake-up for 20 years would bring any improvement.

Rachel Bell at Aberdour station

Rachel Bell at Aberdour station

The Scottish Government warned that “initial teething difficulties may arise” and said it was “imperative that any issues are addressed swiftly and effectively”.

The timetable, launched yesterday,[SUN] has 100 extra daily services including a new half-hourly link between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Cumbernauld.

John McKee, director of Hanover Healthfoods, relies on senior employee Rachel Bell to open the shop at 9:30am every day, which also acts as a parcel drop-off point.

However, she said her train service from Aberdour in Fife had been so unreliable that he regularly had to draft in colleagues at short notice or come in himself when she was late.

Rachel Bell' at Aberdour station

Rachel Bell' at Aberdour station

Mrs Bell, 40, said: “I have gone from driving 40,000 miles a year to commuting by train and have been quite shocked with what people have to put up with.

“My boss hired me so he could depend on me but I’m having to let him down on a weekly basis.

“One train was so tightly crammed that a woman could not get her phone out of her pocket to tell her employer she would be late. I even heard a conductor announce; ‘Step out of your comfort zone and move up’.”

Mr McKee said he had had to “think long and hard” about hiring Mrs Bell because she commuted by rail.

He said: “We are a customer-facing business with fixed opening hours, so we have to be open on time and prepared.

“I would definitely not employ another person reliant on the trains again.

“This country has had railways for over 150 years. It would be nice to know that people and businesses could rely on them sometime soon.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said it was ‘doing everything we can’ to be more punctual, adding: “We are sorry to our customers who have experienced disruption to their journeys.

“The majority of the impact is a result of our final push to deliver the December timetable improvements which will bring faster journeys, more seats and better services for customers.”