ScotRail is handing over £2,000 per day in compensation payments to disgruntled train passengers, it emerged yesterday.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed £587,527 was paid out by train bosses between April and December 2016 to commuters.
The details of the payment comes at a time when the performance of Scotland’s rail system and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf is under scrutiny following anger at delays experienced at the end of last year.
Out of a half million total handed out between April and December last year, £340,000 was given to those who complained of delay, with £52,000 handed to others as a “gesture of goodwill”.
The Freedom of Information request also showed there was £178,000 paid out under various ScotRail “policies”, which the organisation describes as full or partial refunds given out to those passengers who feel the agreed level of service wasn’t reached. In total, more than 40,000 people successfully sought compensation in nine months.
The table also shows a radical increase in both passengers affected and the amount of money paid. In April, there were 1,963 people who claimed £24,244 in compensation. But by December, when the trains crisis began to intensify, that rose to 9,224 claiming £94,878.
Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Liam Kerr said: “The rising cost of compensation appears to reflect the nosedive in quality and reliability experienced by passengers on Scotland’s trains.
“It’s no surprise the bill has surpassed £500,000 for the last nine months when you consider the problems on our railways. As well as passengers, you have to feel for the staff who are doing their best with no help from the Scottish Government, and they will be wondering how transport minister Humza Yousaf ever allowed it to get this bad.
“And even if this cost isn’t coming directly from the public purse, passengers and taxpayers will end up paying. It’s vital the situation on Scotland’s railways is sorted out. What worries me the most is, the Scottish Government has been completely neglectful, focusing on a renewed drive for independence rather than the day job of running the country.”
A ScotRail Alliance spokesperson said: “We are completely supportive of Delay Repay because it compensates passengers for delays and our performance improvement plan is all about making our service punctual and reliable.
“We will continue to encourage passengers who’ve been delayed to claim back the portion of their ticket price that is rightfully theirs and have made the claiming process simple and speedy.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We acknowledge that there have been issues in respect of ScotRail’s performance. However, ScotRail has developed and implemented a performance improvement plan and we are encouraged to see that performance in this period is significantly better.”