Call for better train services in Falkirk

Scotrail figures show that trains which terminate at Grahmston are on time just 58 per cent of the time
Scotrail figures show that trains which terminate at Grahmston are on time just 58 per cent of the time

A demand has been made for action to improve our transport system after details of late trains were published.

Scotrail’s performance statistics show that trains are arriving on schedule at Falkirk Grahamston just 58.2 per cent of the time.

Abellio, which runs the Scotrail franchise, points out that these are the annual On Time figures for trains which terminate at Grahamston, recording those which are a minute or more late.

The company says that, while around 20 services finish their journey at the town centre station on an average working day, a greater number stopping at the station are not counted in the statistics as they do not terminate there.

Falkirk Councillor Craig R. Martin, who is pushing for better local and national public transport services through Scottish Labour campaigns, said: “Most passengers accept there are times when disruption can’t be avoided but the people of Falkirk shouldn’t have to put up with services that arrive late 40 per cent of the time.

“The fact that only 58 per cent of trains into Falkirk Grahamston are arriving on time is unacceptable. The SNP Transport Minister needs to get a grip of what is happening on our railways and explain exactly what will be done to tackle delays and improve reliability.

“The reality is that while passengers are continuing to pay more for a shocking service.”

The Scotrail Alliance says On Time performance is a “tough but ambitious” measure adopted by Abellio with the aim of improving services by 15-20 per cent.

A spokesman said: “We recognise that performance, in terms of punctuality, has dipped below target by less than one per cent.

“We will continue to work to keep delays and cancellations to a minimum and we have a plan in place to ensure we achieve our target over the coming weeks and months.”

Under the four-weekly and yearly public performance measure figures the percentage of trains running on time on the Falkirk High line was 88.9 per cent and 88.8 respectively. However, these give a five-minute allowance for commuter services and 10 minutes for long distance routes.

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Transport Minister Humza Yusuf has met with Scotrail to develop an action plan to improve train services.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As has been acknowledged recently in Parliament and elsewhere, we recognise that there is room for improvement in terms of performance and the tough targets in place, which is why ScotRail published a detailed Performance Improvement Plan last week.

“The main industry performance measures (PPM) show that during the last reporting period for which we have confirmed data (ending mid-September) performance for the ‘suburban west’ sector, which includes services to Falkirk, stood at 87.1 per cent for peak services and 93.3 per cent for off-peak services. The average for both groups was 92 per cent. Overall franchise performance in the same period stood at 90.8 per cent.

“Across all rail franchises in Britain, the industry recognises the main performance measure to be services arriving within five minutes of the booked time and using this measure allows us to properly compare our train operator against others.

“The setting of fares is a commercial matter for the franchisee, however, we are committed to ensuring public transport remains affordable for all. We fund 56 per cent of the cost of the Scottish Rail Industry, which compares with only 21 per cent support from the UK Government for the cost in England.

“We also ensure, through regulation of commuter fares, that the price of peak fares remains constant in real terms, whilst the price of off-peak fares in fact continues to drop year on year.

“Successive UK Labour administrations decided not to change the rail industry structure when they had the opportunity. We had no choice but to use the franchising system in Scotland, despite repeated requests for change.

“Accordingly, we were required to hold a competition by the provisions in the Railways Act, we then worked to make sure the ScotRail franchise contract was awarded following a rigorous competitive tendering exercise, based on quality and price, in compliance with EU procurement rules.”