New rail franchise holders promise raft of improvements through Moray

Rail improvements on the way according to new franchise holders

Rail services through Moray should see a number of improvements brought into play when services are handed over to new franchise holders Abellio Rail in April.

That was the general view emerging from a meeting last week between Abellio’s stakeholder services manager Mike Connelly and the Elgin Community Council.

At the meeting Mr Connelly confirmed that the ‘ScotRail’ brand would continue as ‘Abellio ScotRail’ with the company pledging to deliver across the board improvements to the rail network in Scotland.

In a report published by the community council it emerged that among the improvements being proposed by Abellio are ‘tourist trains’, each with an ‘ambassador’ on board and seats aligned with the coach windows to give travellers a better view.

Such trains would include ‘taster sessions’ allowing travellers to try out local produce.

However, Mr Connelly could not promise a greater number of direct link trains from Elgin to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

When asked if three daytime trains could be provided linking Elgin directly with Scotland’s two largest cities he said that improvements of that nature was a matter for Transport Scotland as they held the budget for timetable improvements.

Abellio hope to greatly improve the link between ScotRail and Network Rail with the stakeholder services manager confirming that a single joint board by the two organisations would be created in place of the current two separate boards.

Asked about ticket pricing structures, which have been a matter of concern and confusion on the Aberdeen to Inverness line under the current franchise holders, Mr Connelly insisted that customers will always be offered the “cheapest available ticket for their journey”.

This would include the introduction of a £5 fare on release of tickets for the seven Scottish cities, while the current over-55s tickets would be replaced by an over-50s card as well as a reduction in the use of general fares.

Mr Connelly also told community councillors that he was keen to look into a new ‘Tourist Ticket’ that would open new horizons in marketing the railway at home and abroad.

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