Murdo Fraser today (Tuesday) told the Transport Minister that Fife commuters are “fed up” hearing excuses for the poor rail service provided by ScotRail and asked when the Scottish Government will call last orders on them.
The Scottish Conservative MSP, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, asked Michael Matheson what the Scottish Government’s position is regarding the performance of Scotland’s rail services and what action is being taken to improve provision. This followed scores of complaints received by Mr Fraser from “angry” constituents who informed him that no fewer than five Edinburgh to Fife services were cancelled at peak commuter time between 4pm and 6.30pm on April 16. One Fife train commuter described this as leading to “unsafe overcrowded” conditions on one of the other trains that ran that day.
Commenting, Mr Fraser said: “ScotRail claims that the cancellations are the result of staff training, but is there any other provider of a public service that thinks that the only way in which it can train staff is by cancelling the services that are available to the public and making the public unsafe as a result? Surely that is not acceptable behaviour.”
He continued: “My constituents are fed up hearing excuses. We have been told for weeks, if not months, that services will improve but, in fact, they are deteriorating.
“One month ago, the First Minister said in the Parliament chamber that ScotRail were drinking in ‘last chance saloon.’ I asked the Transport Minister today when the Scottish Government will call last orders on ScotRail.”
Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, added: “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.
“Commuters using the Fife Circle Line have had to contend with delays, cancellations and ‘stop skipping’ for too long. Action needs to be taken to improve the rail services for commuters in Fife.”
In his response to Mr Fraser’s question at Parliament, Mr Matheson replied: “The on-going train cancellations and capacity challenges in the east of Scotland, particularly across Fife, are unacceptable to the Scottish Government and passengers alike. I have made that very clear to Abellio ScotRail and to Abellio’s Dutch Government owners, whom I met recently. I stressed that action must be taken immediately to reduce the level of train cancellations and complete the driver training programme for the new and refurbished trains.”
Mr Matheson also told Mr Fraser that the training of staff, which he claims is a “key aspect’ of the problems on Scotland’s railways, is due to be completed on May 19.