SCOTLAND has the best train service in Britain because of high passenger satisfaction and well-kept stations, analysis by transport campaigners showed today.
The country’s rail network was also placed fourth overall in the report by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), which found “huge disparities” between 11 areas of Britain.
The group said service quality was judged top in Scotland “thanks to a consistently high performance”, with its customer satisfaction overall highest across the network.
However, the study by consultants Credo also showed punctuality in Scotland was rated as ninth worst.
The report stated: “Improvements in this area could be a key driver in further enhancing the quality of rail services.”
Transport minister Keith Brown last month told ScotRail and track firm Network Rail their performance was unacceptable and must urgently improve.
The dressing down came after the proportion of ScotRail trains arriving within one minute of schedule was 57.6 per cent in the year to November – 2.2 per cent worse than in April.
The latest national passenger survey, by watchdog Passenger Focus, showed ScotRail – which runs most trains in Scotland – had 90 per cent passenger satisfaction this spring.
Virgin Trains’ London-Scotland trains scored 94 per cent and East Coast’s cross-Border trains 85 per cent.
The CBT said Scotland’s railways benefited from devolved control and high levels of government funding, “and this is used to deliver high quality rail services.
“The comparison between Scotland and Wales is stark, with devolved management of services in Scotland delivering significantly better results than the equivalent in Wales.”
However, the report warned: “The challenge will be to maintain the funding in the face of budgetary pressures, or if this cannot be achieved, ensure any reductions in budget are delivered with the minimum possible loss in service quality.”
London was judged overall best in the study, based on quality, rail use and accessibility.
South-east England was second and north-west England third, with the east of England worst, followed by Wales and north-east of England.
Passenger Focus acting chief executive David Sidebottom said: “Our research clearly shows passenger satisfaction increases when money is invested in improvements that are targeted at the things that matter most to passengers – namely more trains arriving on time, increased frequency and getting a seat.
“ScotRail passengers were 90 per cent satisfied overall, which was eight percentage points above the Great Britain average and in the top third of train companies surveyed.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This study highlights the advantages of the ScotRail franchise being devolved – but also offers a tantalising glimpse of what more could be achieved in an independent Scotland.”