ScotRail punctuality worst for 12 years

Incidents hitting punctuality included a signal fault at Edinburgh Waverley. Picture: Johnston Press
Incidents hitting punctuality included a signal fault at Edinburgh Waverley. Picture: Johnston Press
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ScotRail Alliance chiefs today attempted to mask its worst punctuality for 12 years by highlighting a cut in stop skipping - but even that's worse than it was six months ago.

Annual average performance by the partnership between train operator ScotRail and track owner Network Rail slipped to 87.3 per cent over the year to 10 November.

The figure for the proportion of trains which arrived within five minutes of time fell by 0.2 points compared to that for the previous four-week period - the 15th in a row it has failed to improve.

It is also at the lowest level since August 2006 and nearly 5 points below target.

Punctuality over the four weeks to 10 November also fell, from 81.8 per cent to 80.5 per cent.

The alliance attempted to gloss over the figures by highlighting it had reduced stop skipping, where trains miss stations to reduce knock-on delays to other services.

It said that had fallen to 118 trains skipping stops over the last four weeks - which was down 84 per cent to compared to a year ago.

However, the figure is still worse than in a four-week period in May when ScotRail said the practice had been cut to 53 trains - a reduction of 88 per cent on the previous year - proclaiming the "lowest rate of skip stopping since records began".

The alliance said the number of trains missing stops increasing again was a reflection of the overall drop in performance.

BACKGROUND: Number of ScotRail trains missing stops at record low

The alliance said the biggest five incidents to have hit ScotRail’s performance over the four weeks to 10 November were all "infrastructure related", which is the responsibility of Network Rail.They were emergency speed restrictions at Corkerhill on the Glasgow-Paisley Canal line on 16 October, signalling problems at Haymarket in Edinburgh on 2 November, a line fault at Dalmuir on the Glasgow-Helensburgh route on 23 October, a signal fault at Edinburgh Waverley on 17 October and an engineering vehicle breaking down near Cowlairs, north of Glasgow Queen Street, on 23 October.

READ MORE: ScotRail given £23m early to cover shortfalls

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: "Just when you thought ScotRail’s performance couldn’t get any worse it plummets to a new low.

"Passengers are fed up paying higher fares for overcrowded, late or cancelled trains.

"They will be furious that SNP and Tory MSPs joined forces this week to vote down Labour’s plans to end this failing franchise."

ScotRail Alliance managing director Alex Hynes said: “The performance of the infrastructure hasn’t been good enough in recent months and I am sorry to customers for the impact this has had on them.

"We are doing everything we can to deliver the more punctual service that our customers deserve.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “While the huge reduction in skip-stopping is welcome, passengers and ministers know performance isn’t where it should be.

"Abellio ScotRail are held to account but it must be recognised Network Rail infrastructure issues, such as the top five significant incidents this period, are negatively impacting performance.

“While ScotRail performance has remained consistently ahead of the GB average, that GB average has got steadily worse since Network Rail moved timetable planning for Scotland to its Milton Keynes HQ in 2012.

"It is clear these essential railway functions must be devolved back to Scotland to allow any franchise operator to perform at its best."

But Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Once again we are seeing ScotRail standards slipping under this Scottish Government.

"The public is rapidly losing confidence in the SNP’s ability to manage our railways.

“Low punctuality, trains skipping stations, leaking carriages and over-budget, delayed projects have come to epitomise our rail network under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership.

"Instead of endlessly trying to shift blame down south, the Scottish Government needs to focus on delivering a high-quality service for passengers at a fair cost to the Scottish taxpayer."