ScotRail among worst in Britain for delays

ScotRail trains at Edinburgh's Waverley station. The franchise is now operated by Dutch state company Abellio. Picture: Jane Barlow
ScotRail trains at Edinburgh's Waverley station. The franchise is now operated by Dutch state company Abellio. Picture: Jane Barlow
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SCOTRAIL had one of the worst records in Britain for causing delays during train company Abellio’s first month in charge, figures show.

The poor performance underlines the challenge faced by the new ScotRail-Network Rail Alliance running Scotland’s railways, whose boss has told The Scotsman: “Punctuality is the essence of our product”.

The Dutch-run train company caused 38 per cent of hold-ups in April – the third highest proportion among Britain’s 22 operators – although it is two points better than a year ago.

The figures, which included for the first time a breakdown of who caused delays, revealed Network Rail was responsible for 51 per cent of ScotRail’s hold-ups.

Head of ScotRail’s Dutch owners dismissed

However, that is its third lowest figure among train operators.

Separate figures showed the number of train cancellations and delays caused by ScotRail had also increased faster than those by Network Rail over the previous year.

ScotRail is responsible for train faults and staffing problems which cause delays. Network Rail-attributed delays include track problems, maintenance, bad weather and deaths.

ScotRail’s punctuality also fell in April, by four percentage points, to 63.9 per cent of trains arriving within a minute of time.

Its punctuality over the year to May was 57.6 per cent.

Alliance managing director Phil Verster wants to boost that to 66 per cent within two years. The figures put ScotRail among the bottom third of operators.

However, the information, published by Network Rail, also showed that Scottish passengers were the least delayed in Britain last month. It calculated travellers arriving at main stations in Scotland were an average of 1.4 minutes late compared to 2.3 minutes in England and Wales.

Separate figures showed ScotRail caused nearly 2,400 trains to be cancelled in the year to March – one quarter more than the previous year. Cancellations caused by Network Rail were up by one fifth to 4,600. The figures from the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency also showed the increase in delays caused by ScotRail was nearly double that of Network Rail.

However, this included congestion caused by Commonwealth Games spectators in Glasgow last summer, which led to more than 100 cancellations and 11 days’ worth of delays.

The Alliance said the causes of the April punctuality fall included signal failures and track faults.

Mr Verster said: “Customers want a train service that runs on time. That is why I am absolutely clear that we must put punctuality at the heart of everything that we do.

“We are determined to make changes to the way we work so as to ensure the several hundred actions, processes and decisions required every day to improve punctuality and on-time performance deliver a better customer experience.

“We are also bringing new trains into service and we are upgrading the rail network to make sure when a customer gets on one of our trains, they get to their destination on time.”

ScotRail added the proportion of its trains arriving within five minutes of time in April was 94.1 per cent – three points higher than the British average, but one point down on a year ago.