THE dirty appearance of Scotland’s trains saw the ditched operator First ScotRail hit with a £500,000 fine in the final year of its contract.
The Aberdeen-based giant lost the franchise to run Scotland’s rail services to Dutch operator Abellio last year.
The system of penalties and rewards is effectiveDerek Mackay
And it emerged yesterday that the former operator was fined a total of £576,000 over shortcomings for the year to April 2015 – an increase of £127,000 on the previous year.
Improvements were seen over this period in areas including station graffiti and station shelters, but other areas such as train cleanliness and train graffiti received increased penalties on last year.
The Service Quality Incentive Regime (Squire) report published yesterday relates to the final year performance of the previous ScotRail franchise.
Scottish government transport minister Derek Mackay, said: “I am confident that the system of penalties and rewards which are awarded through Squire is very effective at driving up the standard of Scotland’s railways, a fact which is repeatedly borne out by the National Rail Passenger Survey time and again placing ScotRail above the UK average in terms of passenger satisfaction and performance.
“Transport Scotland is continuing to work with the new franchise holder to ensure that these high standards are upheld, that management is focussing on addressing the issues that are most important to the public, and that we continue to run a safe, clean and reliable rail service across the whole of Scotland.”
Squire aims to drive quality improvements in rail services and facilities.
It has a reputation as one of the toughest regimes of its kind in the UK and continues to have positive impacts in driving up standards on Scotland’s railways.
The recently published Spring 2015 National Rail Passenger Survey showed that First ScotRail performed better than the average for UK train operators – scoring 87 per cent, compared to a UK average of 80 per cent.
A FirstGroup spokesperson said: “In 11 years of operation, First ScotRail invested more than £82 million in Scotland’s railways, delivering increased frequencies, upgrades to trains and stations and increasing the number of passengers by 34 per cent.
“Customer satisfaction with First ScotRail was at 87 per cent in the Spring 2015 National Rail Passenger Survey – seven points higher than the national UK average, and five points higher than when we took over the franchise.
“Our achievements were recognised by the industry as First ScotRail was awarded the title of Rail Operator of the Year three times in the last six years.”
Aberdeen-based FirstGroup had run most Scottish rail services for the past ten years before it was dramatically ditched last October in favour of the Dutch operator Abellio which took over in April.
Abellio and the government said the deal would deliver improved services for passengers.