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Abellio responds to franchise axe with punctuality gains

Sign of the times: more trains hitting targets (pic: Terry Murden)

ScotRail operator Abellio has again responded to criticism of its performance by announcing its highest level of punctuality since June 2018.

New figures for 8 December – 4 January show that 86.7% of trains were on time – up 2.5% on the same period last year.

The average is now 88.5% – the highest it has been for 19 months.

Punctuality has also improved for the third consecutive period – a traditionally difficult time of year.

It is the second time the Dutch state-owned business has reported improvements since it was stripped of the franchise by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson just before Christmas.

The Scottish government is exercising a break clause allowing for the contract to be terminated three years early. in March 2022 after Abellio failed to hit a series of targets.

The company responded two days later with figures showing more than 700,000 trains met their punctuality target in 2019 – the highest number for a single year in the history of the railway in Scotland.

It said today that customers were now reaping the rewards of investment in infrastructure and £475 million spent on new and upgraded trains.

Major enhancements were made to the railway across the country during the Christmas and New Year period, with £8m spent to renew sections of track and junctions, upgrading signalling systems and improving major stations.

A critical part of those improvements included the major upgrade at Haymarket to improve the reliability of the track involving round-the-clock operations to keep customers moving. 

The record investment in new and upgraded trains has delivered all 70 of the Class 385 Hitachi electric trains, 10 fully refurbished InterCity trains and has taken the total number of carriages to 1,016, an increase of 28% since the start of the Abellio ScotRail franchise.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “Everyone across Scotland’s Railway is working tirelessly to give our customers the service they expect and deserve, and it is fantastic to see such an encouraging period of performance during a challenging time of year.

“The unprecedented investment in Scotland’s Railway, including £475m on new and upgraded trains, is really having a significant impact and we look forward to delivering an increasingly reliable service in the weeks and months ahead.”

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