We’ve learnt our Festival lesson, says ScotRail boss

Rail chiefs have launched a new action plan to “get it right more often” following shambolic scenes at Scotland’s second busiest station during the Edinburgh Festival.

Scenes like this, on the last day of the Edinburgh Festival, may soon be a thing of the past. Picture: Lynda Sirel
Scenes like this, on the last day of the Edinburgh Festival, may soon be a thing of the past. Picture: Lynda Sirel

The move follows thousands of passengers having to wait hours then cram onto overcrowded trains home from Waverley Station on the final Saturday night of the Festival, which coincided with a Scotland versus France rugby match.

In a letter to MSPs, Scotland’s Railway managing director Alex Hynes, which combines ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland, admitted: “While many factors were outside our control, our performance also wasn’t good enough and we have learned lessons.”

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He pledged “more rigorous” planning for major events and better contingency measures. Extra staff and more alternative transport such as coaches will be deployed.

A station control room will be established at Waverley and improvements made to radio communications between it and Haymarket station.

Hynes said: “Our objective is to build on the strengths of our planning process and to get better at managing major events.”

He said passenger numbers at Waverley had “increased quickly” from 7pm on 24 August last year, which coincided with staff shortages, a train breaking down and alarms being activated another three times, along with a trespasser on the line.

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “ScotRail passengers are becoming used to being subjected to overcrowded and delayed trains, but the events on the last day of the Festival took this to a new level of failure by Abellio.

“I’m pleased we have an acceptance there was inadequate planning to cope with demand and lessons are going to be learned.”

Dean Lockhart, his Scottish Conservatives’ counterpart, said: “It is now essential ScotRail fast-track this new action plan to avoid this ever happening again.”

A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: “Since last August, there are much stronger working relationships in place, which are to the benefit of all those involved.”