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ScotRail faces record fines over ‘disappointing’ passenger service failures

ScotRail is facing record-high fines after multiple failures to hit performance targets set by Transport Scotland.

Figures released on 4 May as part of Transport Scotland’s quarterly statistics called the Service Quality Incentive Regime (Squire) show that ScotRail failed to hit 12 out of 34 areas of measured performance, including in areas such toilet facilities, litter, and security.

The shortcomings in reaching performance targets has put ScotRail, run by Dutch giant Abellio, at risk of fines of up to £1.6m.

Responding to the claims, ScotRail argued the figures were not fines but rather “a reinvestment fund” to improve passenger services, with “every penny raised” being injected back into Scotland’s railway.

But Transport Scotland, which described the Squire regime “the toughest of its kind in the UK” confirmed the potential penalty. A spokesman said: “This level of penalties is disappointing, especially in comparison to the corresponding quarter in 2016-17.

“We have robustly challenged ScotRail on the issues which are contributing towards, not only the Squire performance but the non-delivery of the fundamental expectation of staffed stations and trains. As a result ScotRail has committed to two reviews, one on staffing/recruitment and the other to produce a recovery plan to focus on more effective methods to resolve and repair faults.

“All penalties accrued are reinvested in the franchise through improvements to the Scottish Rail Network.”

The fines come after yet more delays and cancellations to ScotRail services, including bank holiday disruptions at Glasgow Central station due to damage of overhead wiring systems.

Colin Smyth MSP, Scottish Labour’s rural affairs and connectivity spokesman, said: “ScotRail has left passengers having to pay a small fortune for delayed and overcrowded trains – and even when trains are not cancelled, they still can't be guaranteed to stop at the stations they are supposed to.

“The fact that ScotRail seems to think this performance is acceptable because the fines are put back into the industry shows real contempt for the impact these missed targets have on passengers.”

Major service shortfalls included litter and contamination on the trains, where only 57% of service schedules ‘passed’ its assessment, failing by a large margin to reach its target of 95% set by Transport Scotland.

Other factors of service such as help points, telephones, and ticket machines did not meet expectations either: only 76% of all assessed passed its inspection, failing to reach the 90% target set.


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