Threat to remove franchise

Rail bosses on notice over latest severe disruption

Humza YousafTransport Minister Humza Yousaf has repeated the Scottish Government’s intention for a publicly-owned body to bid for the ScotRail franchise amid continuing dismay over performance.

A major breakdown between Waverley and Haymarket stations on Thursday morning caused chaos for commuters across the network.

ScotRail boss Phil Verster apologised for the disruption but said the incident happened at the worst point and at the worst time.

Mr Yousaf will be monitoring ScotRail’s performance and the attitudes of commuters at first hand by spending the morning on the platform at Queen St station, Glagow.

He said the government expects ScotRail to improve performance. The Alliance which runs the service issued an improvement plan only last month.

As Labour leader Kezia Dugdale led Opposition claims that the government was letting commuters down, Mr Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government acknowledges the severe rail disruption during the morning peak, due to a broken down diesel train between Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket station, which has impacted on all services in and out of Edinburgh.

“The breakdown occurred at the worst possible location due to it blocking all four lines in and out of Edinburgh from the west.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused to passengers. The First Minister and I have both sought assurances at the highest level in Abellio ScotRail that everything possible is being done regards contingency planning to resolve future incidents quickly and efficiently, this includes putting in place robust passenger communication.

“The railway must ensure that it does all it can to restore services, provide support and recompense passengers.

“We are committed to ensuring the success of the current ScotRail Franchise contract. Performance, as we all know, is being tracked closely by passengers, government and the media.

“Currently 89 out of 100 trains achieve the contracted performance measure, this is around 2% ahead of the GB average. We expect Scotrail to improve upon this figure, as per their contractual obligations. As the First Minister said, if performance does not improve the Scottish Government keeps all options on the table.

“I am personally monitoring ScotRail’s performance and will be travelling to the ScotRail control room in Springburn for this evening’s peak time rush. I will also be at our busiest stations from 6.30am for the morning peak.

“Looking to the future, as was discussed today in the Parliament, we will deliver on our manifesto pledge to ensure a public sector body is in position to bid for the ScotRail franchise itself when it comes up for renewal, either at the end of its ten year term or earlier should the Scottish Government or ScotRail take steps to invoke the option to break at seven years.”

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