I have called for better services during the Edinburgh Festival season following a weekend of complaints regarding ScotRail services from Fife to Edinburgh.
Over the weekend many commuters were left stranded in Edinburgh as they were turned away from trains that had reached full capacity.
Saturday saw the worst of the complaints as commuters were returning from Hibernian v Dunfermline at Easter Road and the Edinburgh festivals but many Fife services only ran with two carriages.
Whilst I appreciate that it can be difficult to gauge the number of commuters during any one weekend it is inevitable that during the Edinburgh festivals the number of passengers using Sctorail to go to and from the capital will rise.
I am delighted to have secured a victory in my campaign for better rail services in Fife after ScotRail have confirmed to me that they were planning to increase the number of coaches during peak time services.
Train services, or rather lack of train services, is one of the biggest issues to fill my inbox as an MSP. From the Levenmouth Rail Link to peak time services on the Fife Circle it is clear that the Kingdom often gets short changed.
That is why I am pleased to see that ScotRail is committed to increasing the number of coaches available for their peak time service to 5, when electric trains are introduced to the Edinburgh and Glasgow route. However, it is worth remembering that this service was originally scheduled to run with 6 coaches so there is still room for improvement.
Following the appointment of Humza Yousaf MSP as the Scottish Government’s new Transport Minister I have written requesting a meeting to discuss the reintroduction of the Levenmouth rail link.
In my letter I highlighted that Levenmouth is the largest conurbation in Scotland that is not currently serviced by a rail link and outlined the benefits it would bring to commuters and employers such Diageo and Fife Energy Park.
During the recent Scottish Parliament election, I stood on a pledge of the re-introduction of the rail link and successfully lobbied to have it included in my party’s manifesto.
Despite the election result I am still committed to pushing for its reintroduction due to the clear benefits it would bring to the area. Continue reading →
Today Scottish Labour held a debate on keeping CalMac ferry services in public hands. Before the debate started I was pleased to join colleagues and members from RMT in protesting against the possibility of the service being privatised.
This service is a lifeline for many people in rural Scotland and I am proud to support our campaign to keep Calmac in public hands.
Following my letter to the Managing Director of Scotrail it has been confirmed to me that the number of coaches used during peak time in Fife has been reduced.
Last month I wrote to the Managing Director, Phil Verster, to raise the many concerns that had been brought to my attention regarding the peak train running with a reduction of coaches.
These complaints cantered around the 0709 service from Dundee to Edinburgh which calls at all stations via Burntisland and Dalgety Bay. This service was due to run with 6 coaches however ScotRail has now admitted that it will now only run with 4 coaches and has several times run with as few as 2 or 3.
I am disappointed with this response as it is unlikely that the service will revert back to being 6 coaches. This reduction fails to meet the demand on a line that is a key route for the many people in Fife who work in Edinburgh. It is unacceptable that people should be expected to travel in uncomfortable conditions.
I will be continuing to campaign Scotrail to have the service reinstated to the full 6 coaches.
As the campaign continues to reinstate the Levenmouth Rail Link I was delighted to meet with those involved in my office in Kirkcaldy.
Since I was elected as an MSP in 2007 I have been campaigning on the issue and I have previously held debates in the Scottish Parliament calling for its reintroduction.
Levenmouth is still one of the largest urban areas in Scotland not to be serviced by a working rail link. This is despite much of the tracks still intact.
Following the recent opening of Borders railway, Levenmouth Rail Link should be the Scottish Government’s and Transport Scotland’s next railway priority.
Last month during General Questions in the Scottish Parliament I called for the Scottish Government to commit to the rail link. You can watch a video of the question time below, my question is at 9 minutes.
During Portfolio Questions in the Scottish Parliament I raised the issue of housing and its impact on the successful delivery of integrated health and social care in Fife.
Fife Council has invested significantly in affordable housing and this is to be welcomed. It is also important that if we are to ensure that a joined-up social care agenda is to work that we need suitable retirement housing for those that may require a care package.
For this to be achieved local governments throughout Scotland will need support from the Scottish Government to deliver integrated social care and healthcare. It is important that the Scottish Government are working across portfolio briefs to ensure this can be delivered.
Prior to the opening of the Borders Railway I was concerned that the trains used would have an impact on the Fife Circle. Following a letter to the Managing Director of Abellio Scotrail I was assured that this would not be the case.
However since then I’ve become aware that constituents are still experiencing services that are running with reduced carriages, including during peak times. Some services, despite a promised six carriage train, are only running with two.
I’ve therefore decided to once again write to the Managing Director to ask further questions. You can see my letter below.
I have raised concerns with Abellio ScotRail that the new Borders Railway could see a reduction in the number of trains and carriages available on the Fife Circle. These concerns arise from the Transport Minister’s reply to a written question where he said that the trains “planned to be used on Borders services also work across other routes in central Scotland, including, predominantly, Fife.”
Once again it looks like it will be Fife commuters that will be disproportionately hit and questions have to be asked as to why it is consistently the Fife Circle that is hit with carriage reductions.
The opening of borders railway should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially Abellio who were awarded the contract after work on the new line was already well underway. We have the iconic, and now UNESCO awarded, bridge over the Forth, we must now ensure that the line is fully serviced for the people of Fife. Continue reading →
Today I have called for the Scottish Government to clarify what plans it has for a new film and TV studio to ensure that the Scottish film industry is not left behind its UK counterparts. I have made the calls following news that Screen Yorkshire has announced its new plans for film studio outside Leeds.
Scotland has the skills, talent and scenery to be at the forefront of the film industry, not just here in Britain but across Europe and the world. However without a dedicated national film and TV studio it faces being left behind.
Recently the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Energy and Tourism Committee published a report on the economic impact of Scotland’s creative industries (including the film and TV industry). Continue reading →
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