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ScotRail publishes 249-point improvement plan

Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf has called for “immediate improvement” in Scotland’s rail services as ScotRail’s performance improvement plan was published in full.

The Scottish government had come under pressure from opposition parties, including Scottish Labour, to reveal the details of the improvement plan due to a plague of recent problems affecting Abellio ScotRail services, including a train breakdown near Edinburgh and overhead wiring issues near Glasgow.

ScotRail’s 249-point plan includes measures to improve punctuality and reliability through various local and national initiatives such as numerous infrastructure developments, better communication with customers and the launch of an ‘On Time Every Second Counts’ campaign.

Yousaf, who visited Edinburgh Waverley Station before speaking at a rail conference, said that he was “delighted” that the plan was being published, hoping that the publication will spur “immediate improvement” in ScotRail’s performance.

“I understand passenger frustration. The standards that they expect are not being met and the standards that I expect ScotRail to meet are not being met either. So I understand their frustration but improvements are being made here and now,” Yousaf said.

“I can't, as transport minister, promise that there will never be disruption because of train failure or track failure or weather disruptions, but we’re doing what we can to improve the situation because passengers and commuters certainly deserve better than the standards they're experiencing just now.”

Opposition parties have repeatedly questioned the Scottish government over the reliability of services since the Dutch company Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise last year, with Scottish Labour calling for Yousaf to consider his position as transport minister.

Yousaf has apologised to passengers and suggested that services could be taken into the public sector in future, warning Abellio that the franchise contract could be contested by a public sector body or even terminated early.

ScotRail’s managing director Phil Verster accepted that ScotRail’s performance has declined of late, putting the disruption down to upgrade work as part of its current train investment programme which is putting £475m into refurbishments and new trains.

The plan was released on the same day that ScotRail unveiled new infrastructure improvements in Edinburgh in the form of new train couplers, with Verster hailing the investment.  

“We are going through the biggest improvement in our railway since the Victorian era and this investment in our rolling stock is another significant signal of our determination to deliver a railway of which Scotland can be proud,” Verster said.

In a bid to be transparent about their improvement, ScotRail plans to invite MSPs to its Glasgow control centre to meet its teams and answer questions about the service. Invitation letters are being sent to MSPs individually.

Earlier today, the independent thinktank Reform Scotland backed calls to devolve Network Rail in the country, saying that 54% of ScotRail delays are actually the fault of the infrastructure owner and that devolution would make it more accountable to the Scottish government.

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Andrew G   29/11/2016 at 23:32

As the Class 385's will replace the older trains between Glasgow Queen St and Edinburgh Waverley and other routes. The Class 380's would also work alongside Class 385's, Class 334's and Class 320's on certain routes.

Richard   30/11/2016 at 00:03 What is the relevance of that last comment from Andrew G? Changing your name doesn't improve the comments Mr Gwilt!

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