Urgent improvement call for ScotRail, Network Rail

Scotrail has faced government calls for urgent improvements. Picture: Contributed
Scotrail has faced government calls for urgent improvements. Picture: Contributed
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MINISTERS have told Network Rail and ScotRail their performance is unacceptable and must urgently improve, The Scotsman has learned.

News of the dressing down to the track firm and Scotland’s main train operator came as rail regulators today also criticised their record.

The Office of Rail Regulation said train delays caused by Network Rail had got worse, with track problems forcing speed restrictions, especially on the Stirling-Alloa line and routes north of Inverness,

It also said passenger hold-ups caused by ScotRail were 22 per cent worse than target, mainly caused by train faults.

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said transport minister Keith Brown had met the firms this week, when he “informed both parties that recent performance has been unacceptable and must improve as a matter of urgency.

“He was assured the industry is working collaboratively to do so and all steps are being taken to ensure rail passengers across Scotland get the quality of service that they rightly deserve.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Whilst we acknowledge we are not hitting our tough regulatory targets on performance, our priority has been to provide passengers with more services. When it comes to a choice between running a train that is delayed or cancelling it to protect punctuality and meet these targets, our approach is to run the service because that is in the passengers’ best interests.”

A ScotRail spokeswoman said: “Instances of fleet defects continue to reduce. We remain focused on improving services for customers so that factors beyond our control - such as passengers taking ill on trains and vandalism to train doors - have less of an impact.”