Rail franchises operators & contracts

28.11.16

FirstGroup ‘keen to bid on’ next ScotRail franchise, as Labour raises cancellation concerns

FirstGroup has indicated it is interested in taking back the ScotRail franchise after Scottish Labour claimed that the current operator, Abellio, is cancelling up to 50 trains a day.

Abellio took over the franchise from FirstGroup last year, but has run into performance problems and been required to submit an improvement plan to Transport Scotland.

Scottish Labour released aggregated figures from the Office of Rail and Road today, which show that 1,360 ScotRail services have been cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes every four weeks, equivalent to 49 trains a day on average, since the new franchise started last year.

Neil Bibby, the party’s transport spokesperson, said: “These figures are just the latest demonstration of the problems passengers are facing.

“Not only are people travelling on expensive and overcrowded trains, nearly 50 services a day are significantly late or even cancelled. This causes huge problems for commuters trying to get to and from work.”

A spokesperson for FirstGroup said: “We are keen to bid on further rail opportunities, including the next ScotRail franchise when it arises and we will look at each upcoming competition on its merits before deciding what we have to offer and whether to bid.”

Abellio holds the contract until 2025, but Transport Scotland can replace it at the ‘break-point’ halfway through in 2020.

The Scottish government has proposed establishing a public sector body to take over ScotRail if it doesn’t improve its services.

A ScotRail spokesperson agreed that the company needs “to deliver better punctuality and reliability”.

They added that services will improve once the current programme of upgrades is completed and has “transformed rail travel in Scotland”.

The Scottish government recently called for Network Rail in Scotland to be devolved after an independent report criticised the planning of the upgrade programmes, which have gone over budget in many cases.

Responding to criticisms, Charlotte Twyning, Abellio UK’s director of policy, strategy and communications, has previously attributed blame for overcrowding on ScotRail to Transport Scotland, saying the government “essentially determines how many seats are available”.

Scottish Labour has also launched a campaign for a fares freeze on all ScotRail services from next year.

Writing in the Daily Record newspaper today, Kezia Dugdale, the party leader, said: “Passengers want improvements today, not years down the line. A fare freeze won’t fix the problems with delays or overcrowding. But it will give passengers the break they deserve.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said that to put the numbers “in perspective” ScotRail operates around 58,700 services every four weeks, and its performance is higher than the UK average, with almost 90% of trains running on time.

In an emergency statement at Holyrood last week, Humza Yousaf, the Scottish transport minister, apologised for the problems and said ScotRail had learned for them.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

Tothehills   29/11/2016 at 09:34

So the Scottish Labour Party thinks 3.6% of trains being considerably late is bad. How about we assess his party's management on the same grounds, may be his nasty party dip into their pockets for the rubbish service they gave us!

Isambard Jean-Jacques Brunel   29/11/2016 at 13:37

First have surely got an unfair advantage as they presently have the contract to supply Nicola Sturgeon...

Martin T   29/11/2016 at 20:54

Does this mean that a new operator could ditch the anti-passenger agreement that Scotrail made with the RMT, which means that the conductor has to stop serving passengers to go onto the platform to do a pointless role that delays the train from departing?

Andrew G   29/11/2016 at 23:39

So First Group are obsessed with Scotland's Railway network and are willing to take back if Abellio have lost their contract. Before Abellio and First took over ScotRail. National Express once managed Scotland's Railway franchise and NX could also take back. Arriva, MTR and Govia could also bid to take over the Scotland railway franchise if Abellio lose the franchise.

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

RAIB: Croydon tram driver had ‘lost awareness’ before fatal derailment

20/02/2017RAIB: Croydon tram driver had ‘lost awareness’ before fatal derailment

The driver of the fatal Sandilands junction tram accident in Croydon, London, had “lost awareness” before the carriage he was control... more >
HS3 success key to closing bleak north-south divide, says IPPR

20/02/2017HS3 success key to closing bleak north-south divide, says IPPR

Success with HS3 is key to readdressing the imbalance in investment between the north and London, influential think tank IPPR North has argued. ... more >
ORR confirms Joanna Whittington as CEO

20/02/2017ORR confirms Joanna Whittington as CEO

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today officially confirmed the appointment of Joanna Whittington as its permanent CEO following an open pub... more >

editor's comment

17/01/2017Rising to the digital demand

The countdown is well and truly on for this year’s UK Rail Industry Awards (UKRIA), and the whole RTM team is looking forward to welcoming you to the fourth edition of this event on 9 February.  Held once again at Battersea Evolution, the prestigious awards ceremony promises to be an extraordinary evening, celebrating some of the major achievements of the industry in the last year. You can see the awards shortlist on pag... read more >

last word

Making rail fares simpler

Making rail fares simpler

David Sidebottom, passenger director at Transport Focus, explains how a number of initiatives over the next 12 months aim to make rail fares simpler. By the end of 2017, we hope passengers w... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Southern Rail passengers reminded to claim compensation

03/02/2017Southern Rail passengers reminded to claim compensation

Southern’s annual season ticket holders have been reminded that they are entitled to claim compensation due to the franchise’s poor performance over the 2016-17 financial year. Last year, the DfT promised that Southern season ticket holders would be able to claim the equivalent of a month’s worth of fares in compensation... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

The role of simulation in ERTMS training and system design

01/02/2017The role of simulation in ERTMS training and system design

Paul Boyle, head of ERTMS at Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), discusses the role of simulation in ERTMS training ahead of this year’s &lsqu... more >
Digital railway maintenance

01/02/2017Digital railway maintenance

Tim Flower, head of maintenance at Network Rail, explains how the infrastructure owner is adopting a new approach for condition monitoring to max... more >
Challenges and opportunities for big data in the Digital Railway

01/02/2017Challenges and opportunities for big data in the Digital Railway

Dr John Easton and Dr Shruti Kohli from the University of Birmingham write for RTM about the role big data can play in transforming the country&r... more >
A better railway depends on harnessing technology

27/01/2017A better railway depends on harnessing technology

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), argues that we must change the status quo and invest in technology if we are to c... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Tackling regulation at its routes

24/01/2017Tackling regulation at its routes

John Larkinson, the ORR’s director of railway markets and economics, speaks to RTM about the move to regulating Network Rail at a route lev... more >