ScotRail fined more than £3m over service failures

ScotRail has been criticised over its level of performance after racking up more than £3.3m in...

ScotRail has been criticised over its level of performance after racking up more than £3.3m in fines last year.

Figures obtained by Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie show the rail operator was billed for almost 5000 service failures recorded across stations and rolling stock.

The data, produced by the Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE), is gathered by Transport Scotland’s inspectors, who audit all 355 ScotRail stations and a minimum of between 190 and 210 trains at least once every four-weekly cycle.

During 2019, a total of 651 “fails” were recorded for ticket office opening hours, along with 294 for train cleanliness and 2777 for litter, contamination and surface issues at stations.

A total of 1590 fails were picked up for car parks and taxi ranks, with 1207 for station lights.

The number of fails for train posters or on-train information was 930 and fails for public address systems was 604.

Mr Finnie, transport spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said there is now an opportunity to put a public-sector operator in place after transport secretary Michael Matheson announced Abellio would be stripped of the franchise in 2022.

“This volume of failures shows that significant improvement is required before the Scottish Government can claim that Scotland’s railways are truly operating in the public’s interest,” Mr Finnie said.

“Ticket offices, station lighting, platform shelters and toilets are all hugely important to passengers and it’s disappointing that so many failures have been recorded.

“The current system of franchising public services out to private operators means that private profit becomes the primary concern and as a result services suffer.

“Now that the Scottish Government has announced that it will end Abellio’s reign as the franchisee, there is a real opportunity to put in place a public sector operator who can run our trains exclusively in the public interest.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The SQUIRE regime, the toughest of its kind in the UK, is a fundamental part of our efforts to improve the passenger experience.

“Any penalties are disappointing, however, this highlights the robust and detailed audit methodology employed.

“It is encouraging to note that penalties have dropped by nearly £100,000 from the previous rail period, over £100,000 from the same quarter in 2018-19 and over £500,000 when compared to the same quarter in 2017-18.”

He added: “Any penalties accrued are reinvested in the franchise through improvements to the Scottish rail network.

“Examples already delivered include installation of winter working storage units, which will allow for quicker access to necessary equipment to tackle weather-related issues such as snow and ice treatment, upgraded waiting areas on the Edinburgh to Glasgow route, as well as funding for staff body-worn cameras.”

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