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

NIC chair: Government must commit to clear plan for Crossrail 2 and NPR

16/02/2018NIC chair: Government must commit to clear plan for Crossrail 2 and NPR

Progress on Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail has been branded “hugely disappointing”, by the National Infrastructure Commission... more >
RMT announces further 24-hour strike on Northern and Merseyrail

16/02/2018RMT announces further 24-hour strike on Northern and Merseyrail

Further strike action on Merseyrail and Northern has been confirmed by RMT, whose members will strike for 24 hours on 3 March as part of a long-run... more >
Northern line extension: TfL warns of 5-month disruption to Bank branch services

15/02/2018Northern line extension: TfL warns of 5-month disruption to Bank branch services

TfL has cautioned passengers on the Northern Line about upgrade works which mean Bank branch services will go for a 5-month period without stoppi... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Big Rail Diversity Challenge 2018: Exciting details announced

09/02/2018Big Rail Diversity Challenge 2018: Exciting details announced

The first details of this year’s Big Rail Diversity Challenge have been revealed and it’s safe to say the 2018 edition is set to be more thrilling than ever. Last year saw the RTM team attend the second edition in what is quickly becoming Women in Rail’s flagship event, where teams with a 50/50 gender split compete in a ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

NCHSR: The possibilities are limitless

06/02/2018NCHSR: The possibilities are limitless

The National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) has been gifted with a brand-new lab dedicated to surveying and scanning technologies designed t... more >
Keeping Britain's railway on track

06/02/2018Keeping Britain's railway on track

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, argues investment in track maintenance and rail infrastructure is fundam... more >
The Intelligent Infrastructure approach

06/02/2018The Intelligent Infrastructure approach

Network Rail is seeking to improve asset management whilst cutting down on expenditure by implementing a new Intelligent Infrastructure programme... more >
Project Aura: Changing the game

02/02/2018Project Aura: Changing the game

Paul Boyle, head of ERTMS at Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), describes how Project Aura has been revolutionising training across the organisatio... more >

rail industry focus

  • 08/12/2017A game changer for Midland Metro

    The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) updates RTM’s Luana Salles on the latest projects taking place across the growing Midland Metro...
  • 09/11/2017Testing tomorrow's technology today

    David Brazier, site manager and area sales manager for the UK & Ireland at OMICRON electronics, tells RTM’s Luana Salles about the major...
  • 09/11/2017What next for safety?

    As rail businesses edge towards their target of zero injuries, improving safety performance can plateau. Amey’s sector director for rail, Lee...
View all News

interviews

Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >