Nearly 27,500 trains cancelled since nationalisation, figures show

The Scottish Tories urged the transport secretary to outline plans to make ScotRail services more sustainable.

Almost 27,500 ScotRail trains cancelled since nationalisation, figures show PA Media

Almost 27,500 rail services have been cancelled in the two-year period since ScotRail was nationalised, figures have shown.

Data obtained by the Scottish Conservatives using freedom of information legislation revealed 12,416 trains were cancelled in the 2023-24 financial year up to February 29.

A further 15,013 were cancelled in the financial year prior.

ScotRail came under national ownership on April 1 2022, with the two-year anniversary fast approaching.

Scottish Tory transport spokesman Graham Simpson said the figures “fly in the face” of the Scottish Government’s pledges of an “efficient, sustainable and fit for the future” service.

Cancellations in 2019-20 were at a similar level, with 14,935 called off, showing a trend has continued post-nationalisation.

Transport Scotland said more than 200 additional services have been added each weekday since nationalisation.

Simpson urged Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop to urgently outline plans to deliver “consistently reliable” services.

Graham Simpson described the figures as ‘appalling’.PA Media

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon and other SNP ministers insisted nationalisation would herald a bright new dawn for passengers, but the reality is a litany of broken promises.

“These appalling figures show that hard-pressed passengers are suffering thousands of cancellations each year.

“That completely flies in the face of what was promised two years ago and exposes a nationalised service that simply is not reliable for passengers.”

Transport Scotland confirmed last year rail fares would increase by 8.7% from April 1.

Simpson added: “If we are to encourage more people back onto public transport, then we need to see a change in direction from the SNP Transport Secretary.

“The third year of nationalisation must see Fiona Hyslop urgently outline plans that will deliver consistently reliable services and a real vision for our railways.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Since ScotRail moved into public sector, we have added over 200 additional services each weekday, offering 7% more seats. Passenger numbers have increased by 75% from 46.7 million in 2021/22 to around 82 million in 2023/24.

“This makes ScotRail one of the fastest-growing operators, with one of the best passenger satisfaction rates.

“ScotRail now employs 400 more people than it did prior to public sector ownership, with the Travel Safe Team in particular seeing its numbers triple.

“We are delivering the peak fares pilot – a first of its kind anywhere in Europe as far as we know – offering an exciting opportunity to encourage more people to travel by rail. Industrial relations with trade union colleagues are vastly improved and we have not experienced the same challenges that other train operators have throughout the rest of Britain.

It is two years since ScotRail came into national ownership.PA Media

“In the longer term, over the coming 15 years or so, we plan to replace around 65% of our trains to deliver on the Scottish Government’s green agenda, presenting a real opportunity to procure trains that meet the needs of our passengers.”

ScotRail said its passenger numbers had increased by around 75% in the last year, boosting the number from 46.7 million in 2021/22 to around 82 million in 2023/24.

Mark Ilderton, ScotRail service delivery director, said: “Disruption and cancellations happen for a variety of reasons, many not within ScotRail’s control, like infrastructure.

“In 2023/24, we operated over 740,000 services throughout the year.

“This means that cancellations represented just 1.7% of all services for the year.

“However, we know that trains running on time is one of the most important factors for people travelling across the country, and we continue to work hard to improve those numbers even further.”

He added: “We have taken on 400 more staff than we had prior to public sector ownership and we are confident this will have a positive impact on punctuality and performance.

“ScotRail will continue to keep a firm focus on performance and deliver the best possible service to our customers and we are doing that with nine out of 10 passengers satisfied with our service.”

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