Scotland on Sunday Letters: Scotland deserves better than out-of-date trains

I read Alastair Dalton’s article (12 March) with interest and would agree that the short formed ScotRail High Speed Train (HST) sets have not been a good inter-city solution for the ScotRail diesel network. True, the HST design was a great success for British Rail and the travelling public, but that was over two decades ago and rail privatisation in the UK has caused new passenger train fleets to be introduced.

I spent 39 years working in the UK railway industry. During part of my BR career I can remember the excellent service HSTs gave, and more recently have seen the introduction of the ScottRail HST stock by Abellio ScotRail. These trains were sold as a lower cost option to procuring new rolling stock as part of the ScotRail re-franchising exercise undertaken in 2014. The result is a fleet of trains that required much more work to refurbish the Mark 3 carriages than was estimated due to the condition of the vehicles and the class 43 locomotives (power cars) were not the best in the previous operator’s fleet.

In terms of maintenance depot infrastructure, several million pounds of taxpayers’ money was used to upgrade the maintenance depots at Haymarket and Inverness to support these trains. More recently, circa £33 million of taxpayers’ money was allocated to construct a Light Maintenance Depot at Cadder between Bishopbriggs and Lenzie to provide fuelling, cleaning and servicing for six HST sets each nightshift.

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It should be noted that GWR, who still operate a fleet of 2 + 4 HST sets on a number of services in the South West of England, announced some months ago that it will withdraw all of its HST sets by December 2023 due to the high cost of maintaining and operating HST rolling stock.

High Speed Trains have not been a good fit for the ScotRail diesel network, says readerHigh Speed Trains have not been a good fit for the ScotRail diesel network, says reader
High Speed Trains have not been a good fit for the ScotRail diesel network, says reader

The Scottish Government, with its good intentions for achieving carbon reduction, continues to support the operation of trains that create more carbon emissions than the Diesel Multiple Unit trains operated by ScotRail, and require more intrusive maintenance with consequential high operating costs. If you look to Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government is in the process of commissioning new fleets of low emission diesel trains, some assembled in the UK.

Scotland deserves better; meanwhile the taxpayer continues to pay additional costs to keep these HST trains running.

Kevin A McCallum, Glasgow

Lift the veil

I was pleased to see the SNP leadership candidates calling for the SNP head office to end the veil of secrecy regarding the membership numbers.

It seems that the SNP headquarters is dominated by an order of secrecy with missing money, missing documents and hiding behind a code of absolute secrecy.

This leaves the Scottish electorate perplexed and bewildered as to what is happening behind closed doors at the SNP headquarters.

Meanwhile, the three SNP leadership candidates all agree that their goal is to achieve Scottish independence within five years, which is exactly what you would expect them to say to rally SNP Party members.

The reality is that the SNP have failed to demonstrate in the last ten years that they can govern Scotland when they have had such a vast range of failures in devolved matters; the Scottish electorate have no confidence in the SNP ability to govern Scotland.

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The truth regarding Scottish independence is of a romantic dream that will never happen.

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Bucksburn, Aberdeen

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