Leader: ScotRail stop skipping victims deserve explanation

In many cases the decision to skip a stop is taken after passengers have begun their journeys. Picture: Ian Georgeson
In many cases the decision to skip a stop is taken after passengers have begun their journeys. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Few would disagree that running a national railway is immensely complicated.

There are many external and random factors which can contribute to delays.

But today we report in depth on the issue of stop skipping – where ScotRail staff make an active decision not to stop a train at a station, even though passengers expect it and the timetable confirms it.

This tactic is used where trains are running late, ostensibly to minimise delays to the most popular stations.

What must it be like to be travelling to an important occasion (a job interview, a funeral) and then be told you have to disembark at an earlier, or later, stop and re-route? As passengers have told us, this can add a significant amount of time and stress to a journey.

Occasional passengers are affected as well as those paying thousands of pounds a year for season tickets.

Some delays on our railways are inevitable.

But what makes stop skipping so infuriating is the lack of transparency and the uncertainty this causes for passengers. It can happen at any time and with little warning.

And when this newspaper has asked ScotRail to tell us how often it has been happening over recent years, the most common stations where skipping occurs, and a detailed reason why it has to happen, we have been met with less than adequate answers. The only figures we have so far, via a Green MSP, suggest that it is currently occurring 20 times a day and it is increasing.

If there is a justifiable reason – and Transport Secretary Humza Yousaf for one isn’t convinced – tell passengers, give them the data, and make the case. And for those who are affected, ensure they receive compensation.

Until then this looks like sharp practice on behalf of ScotRail, a service already under pressure on a number of measures.

We hope the Donovan review of performance will examine stop skipping as a priority.