ScotRail replacement services cost Government over £1.2m

The rail franchise was nationalised in April last year and has paid out to sort alternative transport for passengers, but the firm said it was 'necessary' to keep the network running during engineering works.

The Scottish Government has paid out more than £1m for emergency rail replacement services since the nationalisation of ScotRail.

The franchise passed into public ownership in April 2022, but over £1.2m has been spent on hiring buses to cover for cancelled trains.

Figures obtained by Scottish Labour via a freedom of information (FOI) request found the seven-figure sum had been shelled out in the 15-month period.

But ScotRail pointed out a further £2.9m, accounting for 70% of the £4m total cost, was spent on pre-planned replacement buses to cope with engineering works carried out by Network Rail.

The Government also paid £270,000 for taxi cover for passengers due to travel on cancelled ferry services.

Labour transport spokesperson, Alex Rowley, accused the SNP of “incompetence,” adding they had “failed to deliver” a rail network that meets public needs.

“Public ownership should have been a chance to deliver a railway service that puts passengers’ needs first, but instead we are getting the same old SNP failure,” he said.

“Services have been plagued by cancellations and chaos, and passengers are paying eye-watering fares for the privilege. 

“There must be urgent action to deliver the reliable, affordable rail service Scotland deserves.”

Since April 1 last year, ScotRail has been operated by an “arms-length” Scottish Government company.

It brings to an end the tenure of Abellio, who had held responsibility for seven years.

The Dutch firm’s contract was ended early after criticism over its performance levels.

ScotRail’s customer operations director, Phil Campbell, said essential or emergency maintenance was necessary, pointing to the efforts of staff in the past week to keep the network running before and after Storm Babet.

He added a recent survey showed passenger satisfaction with ScotRail had hit 91%.

“We are absolutely committed to providing the best possible service for our customers,” he said.

“There has been no better example of this than the efforts the whole of Scotland’s railway has made, and continues to make, this weekend to get the rail network back on track following the worst rain the country has experienced since 1891.

“The use of replacement bus services only occurs when we are unable to provide scheduled trains due to planned essential or, in some cases, emergency maintenance carried out by Network Rail to keep the railway safe. 

“We know how much of an inconvenience it is when travel plans have to be changed due to planned maintenance or unforeseen emergencies, and we always endeavour to get customers to where they need to be when that happens.”

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