ScotRail announces major increase in daily trains

Transport Minister Derek Mackay (centre) and Abellio ScotRail MD Phil Verster announce the new rail services. Picture: PA

Transport Minister Derek Mackay (centre) and Abellio ScotRail MD Phil Verster announce the new rail services. Picture: PA

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ScotRail today announced the biggest increase in its services for 25 years with an extra 200 trains a day running from 2018.

The 9 per cent increase on the operator’s 2,300 daily trains will see more frequent services on several lines, more seats, some faster journeys and a new, fifth route between Edinburgh and Glasgow route via Cumbernauld.

Other areas to benefit include the Borders, Fife, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, with all the extra services due to be running by 2019.

The expansion will be made possible by ScotRail retaining 13 of the trains which will be displaced by the arrival of two new fleets from next year.

ScotRail managing director Phil Verster said: “I really cannot overstate just how big a change to our service that this announcement represents.

“This is not a slight amendment to the way we do business, it is a fundamental change.”

He said plans were still being drawn up for which services would be introduced first.

However, Mr Verster insisted there was enough spare capacity for the services on the Scottish network, which is bursting at the seams in places, and they would not cause punctuality to suffer.

The improvements, from May 2018, will include additional stopping services on routes such as Edinburgh/Glasgow-Aberdeen to supplement new limited-stop services.

The faster services will be operated by refurbished InterCity 125 “High Speed Trains”, to be switched from the Great Western main line in England.

Mr Verster said the 40-year-old trains - similar to those run by Virgin Trains East Coast to Inverness and Aberdeen - were likely to be rebranded, such as “intercity express”, to better reflect their new role.

ScotRail’s other new fleet comprises electric trains which will run on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line and other Central Belt routes from next year.

Mr Verster said: “These new trains will allow us to completely recast our timetables, meaning more regular, local services combined with a high speed intercity offering.”

The expansion will include new cross-city Aberdeen services between Inverurie and Montrose, and more regular Inverness-Elgin trains.

Trains on the Borders Railway and many in Fife will be increased from two to three carriages.

Half of the Borders services will run to/from Fife to provide direct services to Haymarket and stations in western Edinburgh.

A new half-hourly service will be launched between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Cumbernauld, Stepps, Gartcosh and Falkirk Grahamston to provide direct trains between Edinburgh and more of North Lanarkshire.

It will supplement the existing routes between the cities via Falkirk High, Bathgate, Shotts and Carstairs.

Transport minister Derek Mackay hailed the announcement as a “revolution in rail services across Scotland”.

He said: “Scotland’s rail passengers have never been better served, both in terms of the quality of the trains they travel on, and the number of services running on the network.”

Dominic Booth, managing director of Dutch state railways offshoot Abellio UK, which runs ScotRail, said: This is the best railway in the UK and it is getting better.”

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