Train operator warned

Passengers demand Abellio loses ScotRail franchise

ScotRail train WaverleyFrustrated rail passengers will present a petition to the Scottish government demanding ScotRail operator Abellio is stripped of its licence to run the franchise.

More than 16,000 have signed the demand for change following a catalogue of complaints over poor performance.

Stewart Kilpatrick from the campaign group 38 degrees said: “The quality of service on ScotRail trains just isn’t good enough.

“If that means stripping Abellio of their contract then so be it.

“We’ve been bombarded with stories from members across Scotland of delays, frustrations, missed appointments, important life events being impacted by the poor service offered by ScotRail and they’ve had enough.”

ScotRail chief Phil Verster today blamed “disruptive” industrial action and the modernisation programme under way.

“We listen to our customers,” he said, but admitted: “We want to be in a better place.”

He said there would be 500 “tweaks” to the timetable to solve some of the problems.

“We are consistently improving our punctuality,” he said.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has already told the Dutch operator y to tackle persistent problems over delays and overcrowding.

Abellio took over the service in 2015 from FirstGroup amid promises to introduce a better service for passengers.

The ten-year contract has a clause which allows it to be terminated if only 84.3% of trains are on time or less than five minutes late.

Abellio has been falling short of its target with latest figures showing 89.6% meeting the requirements.

Mr Yousaf told a Sunday newspaper: “If the service further declines, there’s a mechanism to terminate the contract early.

“I want improvement and we will use every lever to make sure that we improve our railway.

“But make no mistake about it, if that improvement is not forthcoming, there’s a reason why we have a break clause in the contract.”

He added: “As someone who uses the train – most of my parliament journeys to Edinburgh are at peak time – I understand the frustrations that people feel.

“There is overcrowding, capacity issues, trains skipping stops, issues around reliability and communication.

“All these are at a level that is unacceptable to me.

“Abellio have some very ambitious plans for our railways in the future.

“What I’ve said to them is the shiny bells and whistles are great, but now get back to the basics – reliability, capacity.

“Get on to that and make this a good experience for the passenger.”

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