Strong foundations – but more to do on performance

Nine out of 10 ScotRail trains arrived within the target time over the past twelve months, the ScotRail Alliance announced today.

ScotRail is held to account against a public performance measure, which means that trains must arrive at least within five minutes of their scheduled time – having stopped at all scheduled stations.

Figures show that, for the 12 months to 6 January 2018, 90.4 per cent of trains met the target. This performance means ScotRail remains the best performing large operator in the UK.

Despite this, the performance falls below the very high standards expected of the ScotRail Alliance. The performance improvement plan target for the past twelve months is set at 90.8 per cent.

In order to deliver on these high standards, Nick Donovan, a railway industry expert, will undertake an independent review of train service performance. He will provide additional resource to the expertise already in place across the ScotRail Alliance to propose steps for improvement.

The recent autumn and winter months have been challenging for the ScotRail Alliance. For the four-week period ending 6 January 2018 (period 10), 83.4 per cent of our trains met the public performance measure. The three biggest incidents impacting performance were:

  • 27 December 2017 – A possession overrun due to technical issues in the signalling works on the Edinburgh-Glasgow lines, and frozen points in and around Waverley Station. As a result, we were unable to run services across the Central Belt first thing in the morning.
  • 15 December 2017 – There was a signalling control failure. At 0830, the failure signalling electronic equipment returned all signals in the Cathcart Area to red, affecting East Kilbride, Kilmarnock, Cathcart Circle and Neilson routes.
  • 11 December 2017 – A train with an electrical power fault failed outside Glasgow Central. This blocked traffic in and out of the station for several hours during the morning peak.

ScotRail Alliance managing director Alex Hynes said: “Despite the challenges of recent months, ScotRail remains the best performing large operator in the UK. For nine out of ten of our trains to have met the target time over the past year is a strong foundation on which to build.

“But because we want to deliver even more for our customers, and because we rightly expect the highest standards, we will come forward with a performance improvement plan. Our customers deserve a better and more consistent service from us, and we are determined to deliver that.

“The investment we are making across the country will help to build the best railway Scotland has ever had. The introduction of electric trains on the Edinburgh-Glasgow via Falkirk High route in December was an important milestone as we prepare for the arrival of our brand new Class 385 Hitachi electric trains. These trains will deliver more seats, faster journeys, and better services for customers in the Central Belt.

“Our high-speed trains, which will be introduced between Aberdeen and Edinburgh this year, will ultimately connect Scotland’s seven cities. The major upgrade between Aberdeen and Inverness will enter its next phase in the coming months, which will improve the service we provide to customers in the north of Scotland. And our recent investment in the south of Scotland is providing an extra 1,500 seats and ten extra services each day between Dumfries and Carlisle.

“This shows that our exciting plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had applies to the whole of Scotland.”

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, said: “I completely understand the frustration of any passenger who has had their journey impacted by poor performance. ScotRail has faced a number of challenges not least the impact of seasonal weather, which affects most UK operators, however this on its own can’t and won’t be used as an excuse.

“It should be acknowledged the existing Performance Improvement Plan had been working well but the dip in performance since Autumn must and will be addressed. This should not take away from the very real efforts made by staff up and down the country in the face of unrelenting, often unwarranted, criticism and their dedication should be commended.

“I am not complacent and fully expect this recent downward trend to be addressed immediately. I particularly welcome Alex Hynes instigation of an independent review as part of ScotRail’s recovery measures. The sooner we can address these challenges the sooner passengers can enjoy the level of service – both on trains and from the supporting infrastructure – they expect of a 21st century railway.”