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Three months to fix 'shambles'

Labour to campaign for new rail deal in Scotland

Scottish Labour is demanding a new deal for the rail network after new figures show ScotRail is failing to make improvements promised to the Scottish government.

Data published last month shows nearly one-in-five trains failed to arrive within five minutes of their arrival time, having called at all stations on the route.

The 83.7% public performance measure compared to 86.1% in the previous four-week period and 90.2%  in the period before that.

Labour says Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf promised passengers they would see improvements by the end of March.

It now questions whether this will be met and will step up the campaign for a new approach to the railways.

Labour MSPs and activists will be campaigning at railway stations across Scotland this week and next week. Scottish Labour’s plan includes:

  • Keeping fares low with a fare freeze for all passengers.
  • A publicly-owned People’s ScotRail that puts passengers before profits.
  • Investing in our trains and railways to deal with overcrowding and underfunding.

Mr Yousaf agreed an ‘improvement plan’ with ScotRail on 16 September 16 and on 26 October he told Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee that he expected ScotRail to hit the PPM by the end of 2016-17.

This week, fares increased across the ScotRail network Labour claims its pressure forced the SNP to give season ticket-holders a free week’s travel this year.

However, it says this does not apply to all passengers.

The post-referendum Smith Agreement devolved powers to the Scottish Parliament to allow a non-profit public organisation to bid to run Scotland’s railways.

In 2014, Scottish Labour called for the suspension of the ScotRail franchising process until after this power had been devolved.

But the SNP instead awarded the contract to Abellio, a transport firm owned by the Dutch Government.

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “The clock is ticking for Humza Yousaf. The SNP has just three months to sort the ScotRail shambles.

“Labour supports a publicly-owned People’s ScotRail where we can reinvest profits in our rail network and deliver a better deal for passengers, and this year we will be stepping up our campaign to help deliver it.

“But we must not lose sight of the fact that passengers want to see immediate improvements. They are fed up with overcrowded, delayed and expensive trains.

“Mr Yousaf agreed the improvement plan in September, yet performance on ScotRail has deteriorated since then. It would be unacceptable if that trend continues.

“It is therefore vital that the SNP Government provides a full and detailed plan for an operator of last resort should the current franchise fail.”

Mr Bibby added: “It is good to see after pressure from Scottish Labour and passengers that there will be targeted fare reductions this year.

“However, we want to go further. That’s why Labour called for a fare freeze in 2017. This would benefit every single passenger.

“After all the delays and disruption people have had to put up with on the railways, no passenger should face a fare hike this week.”

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