Rail services across Central Scotland are set to markedly improve for many passengers from December, thanks to investment in new trains and infrastructure.
That is the key message from Scotrail, which despite some initial teething troubles insists it is laying the foundations of “the best railway Scotland has ever had”.
It also says its new December timetable is just the initial phase of a wider scheme, linked to electrification, that will take railway services to a new level.
However some local rail users are far from convinced, and argue the detail of what is proposed reveals changes that will in fact deliver a worse service for those worst-affected.
Reader Paul Moran said: “The direct rail service between Polmont and Stirling is ending in December, and there has been no announcement about this.
“The service will instead have a connection at Falkirk Grahamston, with a 15 minute wait between the two trains effectively almost doubling the journey length.
“It doubles the chances of delay when there is disruption of one service or another- as there inevitably will be when trying to regularly make a connection”.
He added: “I’m pretty outraged that after the investment and disruption on the line for the electrification works (which i support) I am now going to face a reduced service.
“I will very likely face a higher cost, because I will need to leave earlier and get home later - which means I will need to arrange additional childcare at extra cost”.
He added: “The change is in a matter of weeks.
“There will be people who very soon will buy a monthly pass without even knowing of the change that will occur on that ticket - maybe the change wont suit them either”.
Larbert reader Douglas Kitson has similar concerns.
He said: “Larbert passengers for Polmont and Linlithgow now have to change at Camelon or Grahamston.
“The 15-minute frequency from Larbert to Edinburgh between 7.26 and 8.16 (currently trains are at 7.26, 7.40, 7.58 and 8.15) will be replaced with ONE train at 7.58, with a “new” (too early) service at 7.16.
He fears that despite promises of increased carriage availability this won’t happen in practice.
“For Edinburgh to Larbert in the evening rush hour the popular 17.05 and 17.25 express services are being done away with, being replaced by a 17.18 service, which (for availability reasons) can only be a four-carriage train at best.”
He gets a 7.26 train from Larbert to Edinburgh, which he says is generally good and reliable - and that is followed by a 7.40 service.
“Many people like this one because Larbert is the last stop before Haymarket”, he says, “so it ‘catches up’ the 7.26, and gets into Haymarket/Waverley only three minutes later”.
He adds: “These two services are being replaced with ONE service, the 7.16, so the nine carriages capacity of the 7.26 and 7.40 are being replaced with the four carriages capacity of the ‘new’ 7.16.
“The current 7.40 passengers, unless they can wait for the 7.58, will have no option but to get the new 7.16, and of course the same applies for passengers boarding at the earlier stations of Dunblane, Bridge of Allan and Stirling.
“The current 7.26 train passengers boarding at the earlier stations will obviously have no option but to get the earlier 7.16.
“So by the time the 7.16 gets to Larbert, we’ll have nine carriages-worth of passengers crammed on to a four-carriage train.
“You can guess what that will be like for Larbert passengers”.
Other local rail users will be making similar assessments over the next few weeks - and we will put their key concerns to Scotrail.