PRESSURE IS GROWING on the Scottish Government to demand immediate improvement on services provided by ScotRail’s Dutch operator Abellio – or risk losing their contract.
A national petition raised to demand action has reached 14,000 signatures – many of them from angry Moray commuters who were barely surprised when told by insideMoray last week that only 42% of trains through Elgin arrive and depart on time.
Abellio have already been hit with fines totalling over £1.5million as a result of their poor service record – but now transport minister Humza Yousaf will be handed the petition this week along with the testimonies of 7000 disgruntled passengers.
Media reports that Abellio have been raking in profits of £1million each month has further fuelled anger from passengers fed up with late and often packed trains with poor service or information from rail staff.
Campaigns manager at online petitions site 38Degrees commented: “The huge number of people who have signed the petition and shared their experiences is an indication of the strength of public anger at how ScotRail are being run.”
At the weekend Rail and Maritime Transport Union Scottish organiser Gordon Martin backed calls for Abellio to be stripped of the franchise when he said: “It is clear the rail service is deteriorating – we are very much in favour of the railways being brought into public ownership.
“We want to see them run in the interests of the passengers and the workers that keep the system operating, as opposed to profits being taken away from Scotland.”
Last week regional Labour MSP David Stewart demanded action from Humza Yousaf over the situation on the Inverness to Aberdeen line through Moray: “The fact that only 42% of trains into Elgin are arriving on time is unacceptable. The SNP Transport Minister needs to get a grip of what is happening on our railways and explain exactly what will be done to tackle delays and improve reliability.
“The reality is that while passengers are continuing to pay more for a shocking service, Abellio has made £1million-a-month profit from their franchise agreement with the SNP Government.”
A ScotRail spokeswoman has insisted that they set “incredibly high standards”, adding: “The industry punctuality measure shows we are among the top performing operators in the UK – we run well over 2000 services a day and a rolling annual figures of around 90%.
“However, we have committed to go even higher – our new faster, longer, greener trains and the work we are doing to upgrade the network will allow us to do that.”
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