Free travel offer to ScotRail season ticket holders on worst affected routes

ScotRail has announced that season ticket holders will be offered free travel for a limited time on routes most impacted by cancellations as a 'gesture of goodwill'.
Overcrowding and cancellations are just some of the problems facing ScotRail customers. Picture: @Gazzadaz/TwitterOvercrowding and cancellations are just some of the problems facing ScotRail customers. Picture: @Gazzadaz/Twitter
Overcrowding and cancellations are just some of the problems facing ScotRail customers. Picture: @Gazzadaz/Twitter

The rail operator has been criticised over a number of cancellations across the country following the introduction of a new timetable in December.

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Conductors and drivers being trained on new trains and routes has been blamed as a major reason for the disruption, with training expected to continue into February.

Compensation is already available to passengers who are delayed by more than 30 minutes under ScotRail’s Delay Repay Guarantee - with 50 per cent of the cost of a single ticket or 25 per cent of the cost of a return ticket paid back.

Season ticket holders using routes most affected by traincrew shortages are being offered travel, accompanied by one extra person, anywhere on ScotRail services for six specified weekends in March, April and May 2019.

Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance managing director, admitted that the operator has fallen below the standards expected by customers.

“We are very sorry to our ScotRail customers for unacceptable service in parts of the country recently,” said Mr Hynes.

“While our teams work hard every day to deliver the service you demand, the reality is we’ve fallen below the standard you expect and deserve.”

Mr Hynes indicated that limited time has been available to provide training due to the late delivery of trains by suppliers, including Hitachi and Wabtec.

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The ScotRail boss also said that an overtime and rest day working ban, now resolved, by the RMT trade union made the training problems worse.

Protesters gathered outside Glasgow Central Station on Monday morning to call for action to be taken against the rail operator.

Last month, the Scottish Government told ScotRail to submit a plan to address falling performance levels.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard attended the protest and backed calls from unions for the railway franchise to be removed from Dutch operator Abellio and returned to public ownership.

His party criticised the compensation as a “gimmick” which is “just not good enough” and said a real compensatory move would have been to back their call for a fare freeze.

“We think there is huge support for a return of ScotRail into public ownership,” said Mr Leonard.

“It would mean that every single penny that passengers pay would be reinvested in the railway instead of the current situation where part of that goes back to pay shareholder dividends in Holland.”

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Rail remains a reserved matter under the Scotland Act.

“Until this changes, we cannot consider the full range of options for running the railways in Scotland in a way which best suits our passengers, freight providers and communities.

“That is why we are yet again calling on the UK Government, through its rail review, to devolve all rail matters to the Scottish Ministers. Anyone with a genuine interest in improving our railways should get behind this.”

An Abellio spokesman said: “Abellio’s focus is on delivering the existing franchise to the highest possible standards, working hard to put in place a railway that better connects passengers, businesses, and communities across Scotland.”