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Labour cranks up pressure...

ScotRail ‘still failing’ despite improved figures

ScotRail train Waverley
ScotRail: need for improvement (photo by Terry Murden)

ScotRail operator Abellio was today accused of failing to hit performance targets even though more trains are arriving on time.

New data shows the moving annual average ‘public performance measure’ (PPM) now stands at 90%, making it the second best performing large operator in the UK.

However, Scottish Labour pointed out that the target is 91.3%, meaning that one train in ten fails to arrive within five minutes of the scheduled time.

Labour pointed out that the rolling PPM figure is lower than it was at the same point last year, when it stood at 90.3%.

The SNP has promised to improve the passenger experience and said it expects targets to be met by the end of March.

SNP Transport Minister Humza Yousaf agreed an ‘improvement plan’ with ScotRail on 16 September.

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Neil Bibby said: “2016 was a year of delays and disruption on Scotland’s railways. This year needs to be a year of change and improvement.

“Humza Yousaf said he expected ScotRail to hit their performance targets by the end of March, yet here we have another set of figures showing contractual targets are still being missed. The clock is ticking for Humza Yousaf and ScotRail.”

Last week, fares increased across the ScotRail network. Scottish Labour launched a campaign for a fare freeze for all passengers in 2017, following months of disruption on the network.

ScotRail said there had been a “significant improvement” in punctuality over the past four weeks, including the busy Christmas and Hogmanay period.

It achieved an official performance figure [PPM] of 89.7% in the four weeks to Saturday 7 January – a rise of 6% on the previous period, and 2.8% higher year on year.

During the latest period, three significant disruptive events affected services: overhead line issues at Hyndland on Hogmanay and again on 6 January, and disruption caused when a child’s scooter was thrown onto overhead lines at Airdrie. Collectively, these events led to a 0.7% reduction in the monthly PPM, with underlying performance above 90%.

This is the third period in a row in which ScotRail’s train performance has improved.

During the four weeks to 7 January, ScotRail handled 6.7 million passenger journeys on around 57,000 train services.  A traditionally busy time of year, three of the busiest five days of 2016 were recorded in December – on the 12th, 16th and 17th of the month – as passengers started to enjoy the festive season.

PPM for England and Wales for the last four weeks was 87.1%, with the annual average figure trailing Scotland at 87.4%.

ScotRail Alliance managing director Phil Verster said: “These latest figures show that our Performance Improvement Plan is starting to produce results for our customers and we are achieving this in the middle of the biggest upgrade to our railway since Victorian times. 

“We can do more and we can go higher, and every single one of the 7500 people who work on Scotland’s railway is committed to doing just that.

“The sheer scale of the work we are doing to improve the railway has resulted in more disruption than normal. This means that our customers have had to put up with a lot over the past few months. We have done everything we can to keep people moving during this unprecedented period. I hope our customers can take some encouragement from the continued improvement.

“Later this year, our modernisation work will start to bear fruit. The introduction of our new faster, longer, greener trains will dramatically increase the number of seats we have available – and will help us to reduce journey times. In the months that follow there will be even more trains, more services and more upgraded stations. That is all good news for passengers.”

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