Holyrood urged to ‘stand up for constituents’ and break Abellio franchise

MSPs have been urged to return Scotland’s railways to public ownership after it emerged almost 75,000 trains have been cancelled under Abellio’s stewardship of ScotRail.

The call by Lesley laird MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath for MSPs to stand up for their constituents comes ahead of Scottish Labour’s move tomorrow (Wednesday) to force a vote to end Abellio’s franchise early.

Abellio were awarded the lucrative franchise by then-SNP First Minister Alex Salmond in 2014 and started running passenger services in April 2015.

SNP Ministers heralded the deal as “world leading,” but Abellio has brought nothing but misery for rail passengers across the country.

An astonishing 74,514 trains have been cancelled since Abellio gained control of the franchise, around 327 trains a week or 47 every day since the franchise began.

Despite services stuttering to a halt, rail fares have risen during the period and the popular ‘Kids Go Free’ scheme has been scrapped. A fresh price rise is set to be imposed on commuters in January which will mean prices will have risen by 13 per cent since the franchise began.

Lesley Laird MP said: “Commuters in my constituency have endured misery on the Fife Circle for far too long and I would urge MSPs at Holyrood to take decisive action tomorrow. No more excuses, no more hollow promises of future improvements.

“We’re told services in Fife are better this year than last but that’s still damning given the bar had sunk so low.

“Only this week, constituents complained to me that ScotRail’s new autumn timetable has reduced services from Fife into Edinburgh during rush hour. Of course, permanent cancellations don’t officially count, nor does the quality of service for passengers in Fife, obviously. We’ve also heard that promised new trains now won’t be arriving until after June next year at the earliest – but of course Fifers are simply no longer surprised that another promise is broken

“And yet through this shoddy service Fifers – who already pay more per rail mile than other regions – are expected to swallow another price hike for substandard service in January?

“We were promised a ‘world-leading’ deal by the Scottish Government when Abellio was awarded the ScotRail franchise and it simply hasn’t delivered.

“We’ve reached the end of the line, this franchise has failed, and it’s about time decisions were made with passengers in mind – not profits.”