Hundreds of train services are operating in the Capital each year without enough carriages, new figures have revealed.
ScotRail’s flagship route from Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street was the worst affected, with 1540 trains running below capacity between 2011-14.
Commuters from Edinburgh to Dunblane are also struggling for space with 1474 journeys operating without the planned number of carriages.
Operator First ScotRail has been fined more than £2 million in that period for using too few coaches in a practice known as “short-forming”. But critics say fare increases during the same period will have absorbed the cost.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman, Mark Griffin, said ultimately it was the passengers that were paying.
“The fines incurred by ScotRail for failing to put enough carriages on trains will ultimately be paid for by passengers through increases to fares and it is really not good enough.
“We’ve already heard about broken down trains and overcrowding in carriages during the Commonwealth Games, which ScotRail should have been fully prepared for.”
It follows a story by the Evening News about commuters in East Lothian claiming they were being crammed into trains “like sardines” after half the carriages on rush-hour services were diverted to
Glasgow. Some passengers at Wallyford and Musselburgh were left on the platform because the 7.17am service from North Berwick was full.
Services that usually have four carriages have been reduced to two, cutting the number of seats by 99. Across Scotland, the total number of short-formed trains last year was 2570.
Robert Samson, of passenger pressure group Passenger Focus, said it was no wonder only 65 per cent of ScotRail customers said they were satisfied with the availability of seating. “It can be very frustrating for the passengers that do have to use a short-formed service, particularly because they can be very overcrowded.”
Between 2011 and 2014, there were 933 occasions when three-coach trains were used instead of the six they were supposed to have. Of these, 128 were on the Edinburgh to Queen Street route.
A ScotRail spokesman said it was moving in the right direction with penalties down 31 per cent in the last two years.
He said: “We understand and share passengers’ frustration when forced to run shorter trains than normal and can assure you this takes place only when other options have been exhausted.
There are real signs of improvement with 99.7 per cent of services having the number of seats as planned.”