ScotRail Public Meeting Report

Scotrail Public Meeting Report 

28th February 2019 

Summary of points covered 




Q:   Why is the service so poor? Train cancellations, delays and filled carriages?  


A:   We agree with you that customers are not getting the service they deserve.  That’s why we’re spending two billion on Scotland’s railway to make it better.  We’re running more and more train services on what is essentially a Victorian system and that leads to congestion. 


In the last 10-20 years we’ve seen huge growth in customer journey numbers which is why we must add carriages to services as quickly as we can.  They are coming later this year. 


We don’t own our trains, we lease them.  We made assumptions we would get new trains 18 months ago.  We need to increase our fleet size.  


Problems caused by late delivery of rolling stock from Hitachi, an overtime ban which has now been resolved, and a backlog of training in overtime staff, which should be dealt with by the end of the month. 


Existing Class 170 trains will be redeployed to routes in Fife and the Borders once the new class 385 and Inter City trains are in service. 


Q:   When will we see an improvement? 


A:   Increasing the reliability of our current services will happen in the next few weeks.  We will tackle the backlog of drivers next month (March). 


Strengthening the trains by making them longer will improve the service That depends on support which makes it difficult to promise an exact date.  This will likely happen in May for off-peak (three carriages) and could be as late as December for peak (six carriages). 


Q:   Trains can be indicated as cancelled and then sail past the stop. Why is this? 


A:   We have banned skip stopping except as a last resort.  Number of skip stops is down 80 per cent year on year.  We run 2400 services a day. 


Q:   Why is Fife being penalised more than other regions?  Trains use to stop at Kirkcaldy from Aberdeen – stopped two years ago? 


A  We’ve been let down by our suppliers of new fleets.  Are diesel trains used in just Fife?  That’s not the case.  The Borders have similar issues.  Stock down 10 per cent in a single year.Page Break 


Q:   Was there a contingency plan when you knew that Hitachi weren’t on time with their trains? 


A:   When it became apparent that Hitachi was going to let us down badly we sourced electric trains from down south to help ease the capacity crunch but not enough.  We don’t own our trains, we lease them.  


Questions that still need clarification 

Q:   What is the improvement plan for the Fife Circle and the main line trains? 

Q:   Why are we getting diesel trains pushed on Fife? 

Q:   Given that Edinburgh Gateway is meant to be the rail link for Edinburgh Airport – how come not all trains stop there? 

Q:   What involvement has the Transport Minister had with Scotrail – how much input does he have? 

Q:   Why are there no direct trains between Leuchars/Cupar and Dunfermline? 

Q:   Why is the Perth/Markinch to Dunfermline service so sparse and irregular? 

Q:   When are slam door trains going to be replaced on the Fife Circle? 

Q:   Does Scotrail collate stats for delays/cancelations to reveal patterns and make decisions about how to improve the service? 

Q:   What are plans for staff shortages which is causing trains to be cancelled or short formed? 



Health and Safety  


Q:   We have seen many people squashed into carriages including pregnant women.  Is that an acceptable way to send someone out to work for the day?  


A:   We spend a lot of time making sure that our network is safe.  We make sure that the trains are fully accessible and have priority seats.  Badges for passengers with extra needs are available.  


Q:   I can assure you I’ve witnessed people fainting on the carriages a number of times.  Is this acceptable? 


A:   We have a driver and guard on every train.  The guard can look after people in the carriage.  We’re subject to independent safety regulators/ monthly performance checks. 


Every service we operate has two health and safety professionals on board.  


Q:   Do you look at the images that people post online?  Twitter is sometimes the only way to communicate with Scotrail.  


A:   Feedback from social media helps us paint a picture of the service. I commute on ScotRail every day and experienced coming here to Fife tonight. 

Page Break 


Questions that still need clarification 

Q:   Is there a legal limit to the numbers of people a carriage can hold.  If so, how are these numbers monitored? 

Q:   ScotRail is subject to ‘independent safety regulation’ – does that cover passenger numbers on a carriage? 


Pricing & Compensation 


Q:   What we get for the price is completely unacceptable Can this be fixed? 


A:   Fares are set by the Scottish Government – on average better than elsewhere in the UK by around 20 per cent. 


Q:   Compensation of £2.25 is measly For many people trains are the only option.  What else are Scotrail prepared to offer? 


A:   We offer a no quibble compensation scheme which applies of your journey door-to-door is delayed by over 30 minutes.  In addition, there’s further compensation which offers free travel anywhere in Scotland. 


Delay repay guarantee is our minimum.  You pay out a lot of money every single week.  I would encourage you to apply for it.  


Q:   Is Scotrail looking to introduce tap in/out technology?  


A:   Our ticketing needs reformed.  The system was designed 20 years ago.  The way fares are regulated is also old-fashioned.  


Q:   Why can’t we have our Fife fare reduced until normal service is resumed? 


A:   I’ve heard that message loud and clear.  


Questions that still need clarification 

Q:   Would you bring down your travel costs because your service is poor until normal service is resumed 

Q:   Would it be possible for Edinburgh – Fife tickets to be accepted on buses from Edinburgh to Fife?  

Q:   Was there any penalty clause in the Hitachi contract? 

Q:   How are students able to get a better value when they are not able to use their discount cards before 9am travel?  As well as that older students aged 25 and older no discount cards are available to them? 

Q:   How many compensation claims were lodged with ScotRail in the last 6 months – and what percentage of those were refused?  

Q:   How many people took up the Fare for a Fiver scheme?  Page Break 


Going Forward 


Lesley Laird MP has written to Transport Minister Michael Matheson MSP.  It’s obvious that services for commuters travelling at peak-time won’t be significantly improved until the end of the year.  For this reason, Lesley has called on the Scottish Government to reduce fares for Fife until services are back to normal. 


Find Lesley’s Petition for a fare reduction for Fifers here:  


Lesley will also be writing to Alex Hynes with this follow up report to seek clarification on further questions as well as arranging a future public meeting for June 2019.