Posted 24th June 2019 | No Comments

ScotRail set to survive after standards rise

SCOTRAIL says it is meeting the higher standards set out in a second ‘remedial plan’ which was issued by the Scottish Government on 8 February.

The plan was served on ScotRail after performance had fallen below the targets in the franchise contract. It was the second Remedial Plan issued to the operator within a few months, after performance had fallen to 79 per cent.

At the time, transport secretary Michael Matheson said: ‘Too often passengers have been left disappointed and this must change swiftly.

‘Having already issued one remedial plan notice, it is frustrating that another follows. ScotRail recognises the reasons for this notice and the direct link between train service reliability and customer satisfaction.

‘I require quick action to ensure the ongoing record investment in infrastructure, fleets and staff quite rightly translates to better satisfaction levels and a more attractive service.’

ScotRail promised improvements under 19 headings, and says it has now met the requirements of 11. Driver and conductor training has been completed in eastern Scotland and cancellations have been reduced, and in Fife performance has risen to 93.25 per cent.

ScotRail has also leased three more HSTs and recruited eight more Hitachi train technicians. Another £500,000 has been used to boost a performance improvement fund, and ScotRail said it was recruiting more frontline staff and also ‘on track to exceed the commitment of hiring an extra 55 drivers and 30 conductors during 2019’.

The May timetable changes were a crucial test, but recent performance has been the best since September 2018.

ScotRail operations director David Simpson said: ‘The successful delivery of our remedial plan remains a priority for everyone at ScotRail and I am delighted to see the progress we have made in such a short period of time.

‘We put in a lot of work to identify the areas that would have the most impact for our customers, and meeting those commitments is improving punctuality, reducing cancellations, and providing more seats throughout the country.’

However, ScotRail is not yet completely out of the wood. It is still struggling to get more HSTs into service after long delays in the refurbishment programme at Wabtec, and has recently advertised for a third party contractor to install waste retention tanks on those HSTs which have yet to be upgraded, because all trains must have controlled emission toilets by the end of this year.