I’ve called for the Scottish Government to use the break clause in ScotRail’s franchise agreement and bring the railway back into public ownership.
Statistics released to me show that between April and September peak time services between Kirkcaldy, Cardenden and Edinburgh were cancelled 110 times. This figures only looked at services from Fife to Edinburgh in the morning, and return evening journeys, meaning the total figures for the Fife Circle could be much higher.
It is no wonder that passengers are frustrated. Bearing in mind that ScotRail calculate a train being ‘on time’ as one that arrives up to 5 minutes late, the 17:02 Edinburgh to Dundee service, calling at Kirkcaldy, was only ‘on time’ in 55% of cases in June, and 56% of times in August and September. The 17:41 Edinburgh-Inverness train, calling at Kirkcaldy, was only ‘on time’ 54% of the time in June.
We have known for some time that Fife commuters are having to deal with delayed, cancelled or over-crowded trains and spiralling high ticket prices. For far too long, Fife has had a second-class rail service that is far below the standard we should expect.
A Freedom of Information request has shown that the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland have agreed to waive ScotRail’s franchise performance benchmarks until June 2019. According to the franchise agreement, ScotRail’s ‘Moving Annual Average’ for punctuality must be above 88.22% or it risks breach of contract.
The SNP Government have simply given ScotRail a licence to fail. Instead of punishing ScotRail for breaching its contract, the SNP Government are simply content to let them off the hook and allow commuters to continue to suffer.
Fife deserves better. Rather than letting ScotRail provide a second-class service for the area, the SNP must listen to Scottish Labour’s calls and use the upcoming break in the franchise agreement to put Scotland’s railways back in to the hands of the public and the passengers that use it.