ScotRail cuts 100 services for training

ScotRail has cancelled around 100 services over the past four days as it struggles to train staff in time to run extra trains next month.

Wednesday, 21st November 2018, 10:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st November 2018, 10:44 am

Trains in and out of Edinburgh have been worst hit, with around 30 halted yesterday, 20 on Monday, around five on Sunday and more than 40 on Saturday.

Routes hit included those to North Berwick, the Borders, Dunblane, Fife and Aberdeen.

Passenger watchdog Transport Focus said: “Many may feel this is one too many incidents.”

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ScotRail has cancelled around 100 services over the past four days as it struggles to train staff in time to run extra trains next month.

ScotRail blamed the late arrival of new trains for the rush to get drivers and conductors familiarised.

Brand new electric trains, which will take over full running of the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line from 9 December, have been delivered late by Hitachi.

Refurbishment of 40-year-old inter-city diesel trains for the Edinburgh-Aberdeen line is also behind schedule.

Staff are having to be trained on stand-in electric trains, which will run between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dunblane, replacing diesels.

ScotRail said the cancellations had been unavoidable.

A series of new services are also being introduced, including half-hourly trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Falkirk Grahamston and Cumbernauld – effectively a fifth route between the cities.

Other changes are near-hourly services from Dundee-Arbroath, Aberdeen-Montrose and Inverness-Elgin.

Transport Focus director David Sidebottom said: “Delays and cancellations are annoying and frustrating for passengers whenever they happen, but many may feel that this is one too many incidents.

“Punctuality drives passenger views of the railway.

“Passengers rightly expect ScotRail to keep to its basic promises with most trains on time and with few cancellations.

“We encourage any passenger delayed to claim compensation and to send a clear message to the rail industry and make sure your voice is heard.”

Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Clearly, training staff to use the new trains is unavoidable and will cause some disruption.

“However, the fact there were over 100 cancellations seems to be excessive. As always, it’s the passengers who are impacted by these failures.”

Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie MSP said: “This sounds like bad planning at the top.

“Scotland’s commuters are crying out for more reliable rail services and as we anticipate new vehicles, we should expect that roll-out to be as smooth as possible.”

Mike Rumbles, his Scottish Liberal Democrats counterpart, said: “Commuters are getting a rough ride from ScotRail. They are heartily sick of delays, cancellations and excuses.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “This is yet another in the long list of excuses from ScotRail for their plummeting performance.

“The mismanagement in the delivery of these trains caused cancellations when they weren’t built on time and now they have arrived, they are still being blamed for services being axed.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to our customers who have had their journey disrupted.

“We only cancel services where there is no other option and understand the impact this has on customers.

“Anyone delayed by 30 minutes or more is entitled to compensation via our Delay Repay guarantee.

“Just keep hold of your ticket and claim on our website or mobile app.”