Number of ScotRail trains missing stops at record low

ScotRail has said skip-stopping is used to minimise wider disruption rather than improve figures. Picture: Michael Gillen.
ScotRail has said skip-stopping is used to minimise wider disruption rather than improve figures. Picture: Michael Gillen.
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ScotRail chiefs appear to have made good on their pledge to outlaw hated “skip-stopping” by cutting the rate to its lowest since records began nine years ago.

Fewer than two trains a day missed a station stop last month compared to around 20 a day last year.

The train operator pledged in March to only miss stops as a “last resort” to minimise wider delays.

However, managing director Alex Hynes has admitted the move has hit punctuality, since it now takes longer for normal services to be restored after disruption.

The skip-stopping rate has plunged from 0.78 per cent of trains in 2017 to 0.1 per cent in the four weeks to 26 May - or 53 of nearly 58,000 trains.

But punctuality also fell last month, to 91.5 per cent of trains arriving at their destinations within five minutes of schedule.

That is 0.5 points down on April and 0.1 points down on a year ago.

Skip-stopping is detested by commuters, especially when it is not announced until after their train has started its journey.

ScotRail said it had been used in the past to reduce knock-on disruption to other trains.

It has denied the practice is to improve punctuality figures.

Ending skip-stopping was recommended in a review by former rail chief Nick Donovan, who was drafted in by ScotRail to get to the root of the operator’s performance problems.

Mr Hynes said: “We pledged to suspend skip-stopping, except as a last resort, and that is exactly what has happened.

“Customers are feeling the benefit of this improvement, but we know there is more to do to deliver the service they deserve.”

Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Jamie Greene said: “Whilst the most recent figures show improvements, commuters will not be satisfied until this practice has been eliminated in all but non-essential situations.

“There is still a huge amount of regional variance in performance – in some parts of Scotland punctuality is still incredibly poor.”

Colin Smyth, his Scottish Labour counterpart, said: “The Scottish Government should have intervened to stop this long ago, instead of leaving thousands of passengers on platforms everyday wondering if their train will even stop. It is appalling it 
took pressure from opposition politicians, passenger anger and an independent consultant before ScotRail realised skip-stopping was unacceptable.”

Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie said: “Whilst one stop skipped is one too many, causing disruption to people’s daily lives, ScotRail are to be applauded for acting so decisively.”