ScotRail is making an “incredible” effort to improve the punctuality of trains on Scotland’s railways, the head of the train company has said.
Abellio ScotRail managing director Phil Verster insisted he wanted the service operator to “be in a better place with train punctuality performance”.
He insisted it would “absolutely not” reach the point where the number of trains running late could force the Scottish Government to end Abellio’s contract.
Mr Verster also promised travellers would be “significantly impressed” by new trains which are due to start coming into service about a year from now.
More than 19,000 people have signed a petition calling on transport minister Humza Yousaf to “make ScotRail bosses improve Scotland’s trains or strip them of their contract”.
The campaigning organisation 38 Degrees said: “It is vital for Scotland that we have a train service that is affordable and runs on time.
“ScotRail bosses have been providing a poor service for months and the Scottish Government could be finally about to get tough on them.”
Its Scottish head Stewart Kirkpatrick told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’ve been bombarded with stories from members across Scotland of delays, frustrations, missed appointments, important life events impacted by the poor service offered by ScotRail and they’ve had enough.”
A total of 89.6% of all ScotRail services either arrive on time or are less than five minutes late, according to Mr Verster, just 0.7 points below the company’s target of 90.3%.
He told the Good Morning Scotland programme: “I definitely want us to be in a better place with train punctuality performance.
“We’re around 0.7% off where we want to be and we are putting an incredible amount of effort to recover that performance because we know how important that is.”
He said that a “massive increase” in people using the trains resulted in capacity issues which has “contributed more and more to trains running slower”.
Mr Verster said: “In the next two years we are taking the fleet size from around 800 carriages to 1,000 carriages, that is a massive addition of capacity and on some routes such as Aberdeen to Inverness capacity will increase by 75%.
“Punctuality will be addressed over the next months and has already improved in the last four weeks.
“We are only about 11 months away from the first new trains being introduced on the railways, it’s not two years, it starts in a year’s time.
“Our customers are going to be significantly impressed with our transformation in the next couple of years.”