ScotRail vowed to inform passengers promptly of disruption as it admitted 225 trains – one in ten – were cancelled during Thursday’s “dreadful” break down.
The revelation came as transport minister Humza Yousaf defied union calls for him to quit over ScotRail’s performance, vowing that he would “certainly not” step down.
The train operator said one of its trains breaking down near Haymarket Station in Edinburgh shortly after 7am on Thursday led to 147 trains being fully cancelled and a further 78 being partially cancelled – or terminated early.
ScotRail said a requirement that train staff informed passengers of disruption within ten minutes would be enforced. The company launched a “thorough review” after Mr Yousaf demanded “robust passenger communication”, which ScotRail conceded had been patchy.
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said it “may be time” for the minister to “consider his position” if he did not strip Abellio of the ScotRail franchise over performance. That came after Aslef, the main train drivers’ union, called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to sack Mr Yousaf and return ScotRail to public ownership.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) – the largest rail union – also called for an “immediate return” of ScotRail to “direct public ownership”, although it did not comment on Mr Yousaf.
All three unions support Labour’s campaign to renationalise the railways. The Scottish Government wants a public sector bid for the next ScotRail franchise from 2025.
ScotRail has been ordered to implement a performance improvement plan because its punctuality fell below 90.3 per cent of trains arriving on time.
However, its timekeeping has since improved by 0.3 points to 89.8 per cent in the year to last Saturday, compared to a month before.
The figure was some 72.5 per cent on Thursday, but reached 90 per cent yesterday evening.
The Scottish Government, which controls the franchise, can terminate the contract if punctuality falls below 84.3 per cent over three months.
Ministers can also review the ten-year contract in 2020 with a view to terminating it in 2022, two years before it is due to end.
Mr Yousaf said: “My job is to make sure that the railways are running. I’m committed to doing that job. I’ll be monitoring things absolutely closely.”