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ScotRail reveals ‘golden trains’ performance improvement plan

Following an increase in delays, ScotRail has promised to review its operations, infrastructure and rolling stock in order to improve performance.

ScotRail’s moving annual average (MAA), the aggregate of its public performance measure (PPM) for the past 13 period, was at 90.3% in April 2015, when Abellio took over the franchise. It has now fallen to 89.6%, prompting Transport Scotland to ask for an improvement plan.

ScotRail said both planned and unplanned maintenance works had been carried out on the network during that period, and more are likely to follow in a widespread programme of upgrades, including electrification.

David Dickson, ScotRail’s infrastructure director, said: “Our railway is undergoing the biggest period of change and modernisation since the Victorian era. Over the course of the next year or so we will be completing huge projects to upgrade our infrastructure, electrifying large parts of the network and introducing new fleets of faster, longer greener and intercity trains.

“With this amount of change, there is inevitably some disruption. We are doing everything we can to minimise this – such as the work we did to keep people moving during the closure of the Queen Street Tunnel. However, there is no doubt that our performance in recent months, as a result of all of this work, has dipped slightly. The plan we are publishing today details how we bring it back to the level that our customers expect and that we want to deliver.”

The high level station at Glasgow Queen Street was closed between March and July to allow engineers to reinstall track in the station tunnel.

In the past 12 months, the UK suffered a number of storms over autumn and winter, including Storm Frank, which damaged two of the piers at Lamington Viaduct, forcing it to close, although it reopened ahead of schedule. Furthermore, the Forth Road Bridge closure in December last year caused gridlock on parts of the network and forced ScotRail to bring in extra trains from other parts of the UK.

In ScotRail’s performance improvement plan, which has been approved by Transport Scotland, the company promised to introduce a Timetable and Golden Trains Action Plan. This will review timetable performance on the Borders, Far North, Argyle Street and North Clyde lines, identify the ‘golden trains’ that will have the biggest impact on the network if they are delayed, and take action to monitor and protect them.

In addition, the company said it would work with staff and trade unions to review how it can make best use of its workforce, and introduce an internal staff campaign to ensure that all activities focus on ensuring the railway runs on time.

The action plan also noted that the work to upgrade the rail network was putting the infrastructure under “enormous pressure” and leading to more failures.

ScotRail promised to invest £8m in replacing and enhancing critical pieces of railway infrastructure, as well as measures to reduce trespass on the tracks.

However, it said that despite the delays, it had managed to keep cancellations under control, running 99.6% of the services it is contracted to offer, and tried to ensure passengers had a seat wherever possible.

Network Rail’s Scotland Route Study predicts that by 2023-24, ScotRail services on the East Coast Main Line to Edinburgh Waverley will exceed 100% seating capacity at peak times.

ScotRail is planning to roll out a fleet of longer, faster and more environmentally friendly Class 385s from September 2017.

In the meantime, the company has signed a contract for seven new Class 320s on cross-Glasgow services, four of which are already in operation. In total, they will add 1,500 seats to the network.

ScotRail has conducted a review of all its trains to see how they could be made more reliable, and has identified common flaws on three classes of diesel trains and five classes of electric train. It plans to upgrade features including doors, radiators, and CCTV systems.

(Image c. Danny Lawson from PA Images)

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Andrew Gwilt   22/10/2016 at 23:00

Well at least Abellio ScotRail are ordering 70 brand new Class 385's that Hitachi are currently building the AT200 Commuter trains based in Japan and shipping the compartments and carriages to Northern England as Hitachi have built the new facility in County Durham. South of Newcastle.

Andrew Gwilt   22/10/2016 at 23:02

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