Leader: Focus on service with a shudder

WHY is it, when the words “passenger-focused” fall from the lips of Transport Scotland, passengers shiver?

In the cause of a more “passenger-focused” service, it is putting up for discussion suggested “improvements” ahead of the next ScotRail franchise award. These include a blanket ban on alcohol on trains; an axing or cutting of sleeper services between Scotland and London; raising fares on improved lines; stations closed; and the time passengers may have to stand on certain routes allowed to rise. To this cheerful prospectus, comments are invited. Taking all these to their logical conclusion, Transport Scotland might as well close the rail network altogether. This would circumvent the problems of late-running trains, drunkenness and fare-dodging. Passenger complaints would be eliminated altogether and the operator enabled to hit all targets.

If the objective really is to be “passenger- focused”, TS might consider some obvious steps: a more cheerful trolley service; more carriages on popular lines; and, accepting that delays can be outwith the control of the operator, a fuller and more frequent passenger updating, rather than leaving travellers stuck without explanation, left to guess whether the delay is short or more serious. Service improvement is not rocket science.