Rail operator says '˜our trains are getting more punctual'

Four out of five trains are now reaching their destination within five minutes of the advertised time - having called at all scheduled stations.

But the statistics will come as cold comfort to many commuters recently caught up in a welter of different problems to services across the Central Belt.

Three specific incidents are said to have caused most trouble over the last month - flooding at Falkirk Grahamston, a fault with a train at Croy, and a track fault at Corkerhill in Glasgow.

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Meanwhile training issues and industrial action by the union RMT are blamed for a launch of the new timetable that was widely reported as chaotic.

Nevertheless Scotrail remains upbeat about performance, arguing that “more greener, faster, longer electric services are operating on Scotland’s railway than ever before”.

On punctuality it says the moving annual average – the rolling performance over the previous 12 months - stands at 87.3 per cent.

This will not, however, impress commuters at Dalmeny (station for South Queensferry) trying to catch a train for the short journey to Edinburgh in the morning.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton, their MSP, says 100 passengers were left stranded on Tuesday, because of a lack of carriages, and that people have contacted him every day - some having been forced to wait “hours on end”.

He said: “It’s like the evacuation of Stalingrad - there are so many people trying to get on and some trains are so overcrowded they just don’t stop”.

Scotrail has acknowledged that one of the biggest concerns for rail users is “busy trains” - and say it does all it can to meet demand “which can peak at different times”.

ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Alex Hynes said: “We know it has been a challenging time for Scotland’s railway, but it is encouraging to see that our punctuality has improved in recent weeks.

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“With the successful introduction of the new timetable, everyone across the ScotRail Alliance is working flat out to keep improving the service for our customers.

“With the first phase of improvements in place, our new trains and infrastructure enhancements, we are working together to deliver the punctuality and quality of service that our customers deserve.”

The introduction of InterCity high-speed trains and new Hitachi class 385 electric trains, as well as major infrastructure improvements like the electrification of the Stirling-Dunblane-Alloa route, have enabled the delivery of what it calls the “enhanced” timetable.

The ScotRail Alliance – a partnership between Network Rail Scotland and ScotRail - concedes it has faced a “challenging” few months, but says it’s committed to delivering the best possible service for its customers.