Package is dubbed a 'gimmick'
ScotRail compensation ‘not good enough’ says Labour
Cancelled trains have caused widespread anger
Scottish Labour has labelled ScotRail’s “extra compensation” scheme for passengers hit by recent delays and cancellations as “just not good enough”.
The party responded to an earlier apology from ScotRail “for unacceptable service in parts of the country recently”. It blamed failures on the need for driver training and an industrial dispute.
ScotRail said cancellations were now reducing and is offering additional compensation above normal entitlement as a “goodwill gesture”.
However, Labour’s transport spokesman Colin Smyth dubbed the offer a “gimmick” said it is restricted to six weekends in March, April and May and only for season ticket holders (plus one guest) if the journeys covered by their season tickets have been specifically delayed by recent staff training.
“Any measure to give hard-pressed commuters some respite from the misery they face daily on Scotland’s railways is welcome, but this gimmick is just not good enough,” he said.
“If ScotRail really did want to give the traveling public a fair deal for the chronic delays, cancellations and overcrowding they have suffered in recent months they would have backed Labour’s call for a fare freeze.
“Instead, fares have risen again meaning annual season tickets on many routes now cost well in excess of £4,000 and the popular Kids Go Free scheme has been scrapped.
“With prices rising and performances plunging, it is no surprise that more people are backing Labour’s call to bring our railways into public ownership so we have a railway system run for passengers, not profits.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has led calls for nationalisation of rail (pic: Terry Murden DB Media Services)
Scottish Labour is campaigning to return ScotRail to public ownership and supported a protest at rail stations held today.
In its apology, ScotRail said: “We are very sorry to our ScotRail customers for unacceptable service in parts of the country recently.
“While our teams work hard every day to deliver the service you demand, the reality is we’ve fallen below the standard you expect and deserve.”
It said daily services have had to be cancelled to allow drivers and conductors to be trained on new trains and new routes before they can operate services safely.
The late delivery of trains by suppliers, including Hitachi and Wabtec, meant there has been limited time available for driver and conductor training. An overtime and rest day working ban, now resolved, by the RMT trade union made the training problems worse.
“We are working flat out to train conductors and drivers on Scotland’s railway so that we can return services to normal,” said ScotRail.
“Since 9 December we have trained 70 drivers and conductors, so we have made progress, but we know we need to do more. We are training more than 20 drivers and conductors every day throughout January and February to return your service to levels you deserve.
“We have seen the level of cancellations reduce steadily over the last few weeks. We will continue to cut cancellations to improve your service. We expect week on week improvement through January and February to get your service back to normal levels.”
Passengers were urged to check their service before travelling, by downloading the ScotRail app, checking @ScotRail on Twitter, or visiting journeycheck.com/ScotRail. Where services are cancelled, if another service is due within a short time ScotRail’s advice is to travel on that service. Where there are longer gaps, it will provide standby buses.
If a passengers are delayed by more than 30 minutes, they are already entitled to compensation through ScotRail’s Delay Repay Guarantee. It is also offering those season ticket holders most affected by cancellations, caused by train crew shortages, extra compensation.
“This is a goodwill gesture to say sorry to our most loyal customers, and to thank them for their patience,” it said.
Season ticket holders, accompanied by one extra person, on routes most affected by train crew shortages are being offered travel anywhere on ScotRail services for six specified weekends in March, April and May 2019. The offer excludes weekends when there are big events happening across Scotland’s seven cities. The offer weekends are:
Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March 2019
Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 March 2019
Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April 2019
Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April 2019
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 April 2019
Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May 2019