Edinburgh commuters hit by delays amid Scotrail staffing issues

Scotrail overcrowding. 'Pic: sent in by reader
Scotrail overcrowding. 'Pic: sent in by reader
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COMMUTERS heading in and out of the Capital faced fresh misery yesterday as a signal failure and staff shortages caused widespread disruption on the rail network.

More than 80 trains were cancelled over the course of the day, with morning commuters especially hard hit after a signalling fault at Perth impacted on a dozen services to Aberdeen and Inverness from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Although engineers had fixed the problem before the morning rush hour, a knock on effect meant trains remained cancelled or delayed throughout the day.

One exasperated commuter, Kim Burnett, wrote on Twitter: “This is the 2nd Monday in a row since the new timetable came into use that the 9.00 from Arbroath to Aberdeen has been cancelled due to crew shortage, well thanks to you I will be late for work yet AGAIN ... I’m raging.”

READ MORE: Two of Scotrail’s new Edinburgh-Glasgow trains cancelled within 30 minutes

Network Rail said only five cancellations were the direct result of the Perth fault, adding that it was fixed by 6.30am.

A separate signalling system fault also saw delays and cancellations on the Glasgow to Stranraer line throughout late afternoon and early evening.

However, the majority of the cancellations across the routes were due to staffing or maintenance issues.

The latest problems came just a week after disruption linked to the introduction of a revised timetables designed to bring about “the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

However, the changes, which include the introduction of 100 new services, have been undermined by a lack of staff, sparking anger among passengers as services have been scrapped, or run with reduced numbers of carriages.

ScotRail apologised for the signalling problems, and said it had acted swiftly to ensure those people who had purchased rail tickets would be able to use Stagecoach bus services.

A spokesman said: “We’re sorry to our customers who have experienced disruption - the vast majority of our services have run, and we’re working hard to improve that.

“Anyone delayed by 30 minutes or more as a result of a cancellation is entitled to compensation through our delay repay guarantee. Just keep hold of your ticket and claim on our website or mobile app.”

Mick Hogg, Scottish organiser of the RMT union, said the problems made clear that Scotrail did not have enough staff to meet the demands of the new timetable.

He said: “The fact of the matter is that ScotRail do not have the resources to do the training and run Scotland’s trains. If staff refuse to work the overtime, the employer ScotRail has a problem.

“No-one can be forced to work their free time, their rest days. ScotRail is very much reliant on staff working the overtime.”

Last week ScotRail released new figures which showed that punctuality levels were at their best since September.

The train service, run by the Dutch firm, Abellio, said 83.4 per cent of its trains trains met the rail industry performance standard of arriving less than five minutes behind schedule.

newsen@edinburghnews.com