ScotRail boss says improvement programme behind delays

Picture: Michael Gillen
Picture: Michael Gillen
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Implementing ScotRail’s improvement programme is like performing open heart surgery while doing a marathon, the boss of the train company has said.

Abellio ScotRail managing director Phil Verster conceded it was a “difficult old time” for the firm as it tries to operate services at the same time as carrying out the work.

Questions have been asked at Holyrood about ScotRail’s performance.

Mr Verster, speaking at a fringe event at the SNP conference in Glasgow, has said the biggest challenge the company faces is capacity, adding: “When a railway gets really, really busy, we get trains delayed at a station because there are so many people trying to get on a train, so many people trying to get off a train. So the train journey gets longer and it’s less punctual.

“I think the next three years, or two-and-a-half years, until we get to the early part of 2019 where we introduce this huge extra capacity into the railway will help.”

ScotRail has already pledged that 180 extra carriages will be added to its fleet, bringing the total to almost 1,000.

Work is also being carried out to electrify the Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street line.

Mr Verster praised passengers for being “super patient”. He said: “The next two years is crucial for us, but it is a difficult old time when we are trying to build a new railway on top of an existing railway.”