Fife Circle Line service must improve say MSPs

Scottish Conservative MSPs Liz Smith and Murdo Fraser have renewed their efforts to ask the First Minister to step in and improve the poor service faced by commuters using the Fife Circle Line.

The politicians, who both represent the Mid Scotland and Fife region, feel Nicola Sturgeon’s promises to address complaints with the rail service have “come to nothing.”

Ms Sturgeon recently said ScotRail have a responsibility to deliver improvements for rail passengers, but Liz Smith and Mr Fraser feel she needs to act now following a deluge of complaints from irate constituents, who have described the service on the Fife Circle Line as a “disgrace.”

The Fife Circle Line has been dogged with problems for some time, with a staggering 110 peak-time journeys on it being cancelled between April and September last year. Of these figures, 42% occurred between Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy, with 31% taking place between Edinburgh and Cardenden during this period.

Last year, ScotRail was fined £2,241,837 by Transport Scotland for breaching a series of targets, including customer service and security, as well as for having unclean trains, toilets and stations between January and June 2018.

Liz Smith previously raised the matter of trains failing to stop at scheduled stations in Fife at the Scottish Parliament. And the situation with the Fife Circle Line has been so bad due to delays, cancellations and overcrowded trains that ScotRail chief Alex Hynes agreed to answer questions from Fife commuters at a meeting held in Kirkcaldy in February.

However, many commuters were ironically unable to attend the event due to a rush-hour train scheduled to run from Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy being cancelled.

Liz Smith feels it is time for the First Minister to act on commuters’ concerns after being inundated with complaints from constituents. Commenting, she said: “The First Minister and the Scottish Government needs to address the situation with the Fife Circle Line. All of Nicola Sturgeon’s promises to resolve matters with ScotRail are coming to nothing.

“I’ve been contacted by many constituents who tell me the service on the Fife Circle Line has been an absolute disgrace over the last two weeks.

“With the Easter weekend approaching there will be lots of people travelling on trains on this line but there seems no end in sight to problems associated with this service.”

She continued: “Commuters using the Fife Circle Line have had to contend with delays, cancellations and ‘stop skipping’ for too long. It is high time action was taken to improve the service on this line.”

And Mr Fraser added: “It’s not good enough to hear that rail commuters are encountering yet more problems on the Fife Circle Line. Despite alarming figures being produced last year which showed more than 100 peak-time journeys were cancelled on this line between April and September 2018, the situation appears to be no better and commuters are suffering from a second-class rail service.

“Nicola Sturgeon said ScotRail have a responsibility to improve matters for passengers but this has obviously not happened. Commuters will feel let down by her promises.”