Nicola Sturgeon has described ScotRail delays as “unacceptable” as it was indicated around 5,000 trains are axed or partially cancelled each year.
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw raised the issue of the performance of Scotland’s railway operator at First Minister’s Questions today in a week in which hundreds of train services have been cancelled.
The First Minister said not all the cancellations were ScotRail’s fault, but a number of delays which were their responsibility were “significant and unacceptable”.
She said ScotRail caused 144 cancellations on Monday and there were thought to be around 40 axed services on Thursday.
Mr Carlaw said people wanted to know why the Scottish Government was “failing to deliver” on rail services.
He said: “We’ve got new official figures that show that since 2011 there have in fact been more than 35,000 cancellations or part cancellations caused entirely by ScotRail. That amounts to some 5,000 a year.
“Punctuality on our train service is reaching its worst point for 12 years, hundreds of trains cancelled and shortages of staff because people are being trained to use the new class of trains which are also delayed, causing another 100 services to be cut last month.
“Doesn’t the First Minister think train passengers across Scotland are owed an apology?”
Ms Sturgeon agreed.
She said: “We’ve seen a significant and unacceptable number of delays that are clearly the responsibility of ScotRail.
“I can report to Parliament that cancellations of this type have fallen as the week has progressed from around 144 on Monday to an estimated 40 today.
“Progress is being made but it is not good enough. We expect, indeed we demand, better from the rail operator and the transport secretary continues to work closely with them to ensure that we continue to see improvements in the days to come.”
Ms Sturgeon said the overall level of cancellations this week were due to a number of factors, including infrastructure issues such as signal failures and train crew shortages – not all the responsibility of ScotRail.
The First Minister said deaths on the railway had also led to knock-on impacts on services and she added the sympathies of the Parliament are with the families of those involved.