Operator responds to snub

Axed Abellio hits back with ‘best ever’ trains on time


New Class 385 trains have been introduced

Abellio has hit back at Transport Secretary Michael Matheson’s decision to cut short its ScotRail franchise by announcing a new record for trains running on time.

ScotRail said “hard work” has contributed to more than 700,000 trains meeting their punctuality target in 2019 – the highest number for a single year in the history of the railway in Scotland.

The operator said it just concluded its best autumn performance for five years and attributed the improvement on the “unprecedented” investment across Scotland’s Railway, including £475 million spent on new and upgraded trains.

Figures for 17 November to 7 December show that 84.4% of trains met the rail industry standard public performance measure (PPM) – a five year high for a traditionally difficult period. The moving annual average is now 88.3%.

The data was published just two days after Mr Matheson announced that he was activating a break clause in the contract with Dutch state-owned Abellio after years of complaints about poor performance. The franchise is due to end in March 2022, three years before it is due to end.

However, ScotRail claimed a range of measures had led to the improved service, including better preparations for the effects of autumn weather.

Ground-breaking technologies were used for the first time in Scotland to keep railheads clean. Rapid response crews were based at key points across the network to react more quickly to incidents.

More class 385 Hitachi electric trains are running on the network which also paved the way for the class 314 trains being withdrawn.

The improved performance came in a month when ScotRail opened Robroyston station – the 60th in Glasgow, delivering an additional park and ride facility to better connect people with Scotland’s two main cities. A new platform was also opened by Network Rail at Dunbar station.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “Everyone across Scotland’s Railway has worked tirelessly to deliver a more stable, reliable, and robust service during this challenging time of year, and it’s encouraging to see that we delivered the best autumn performance in five years.

“The fact that more trains than ever before have ran on time shows the impact of the unprecedented investment in Scotland’s Railway to give customers the service they expect and deserve.”

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