by Stuart Mackenzie and Noemi Distefano
Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to discuss how to improve the Scottish rail services.
This follows pressure from opposition politicians for him to speak after various proposals to bring ScotRail’s railways into public ownership.
ScotRail, who are currently operated by Abellio, have been experiencing various problems with their services.
Charlotte Twyning of Abellio UK, told to the BBC: “It should be recognised that half of the rail industry is already nationalised in the form of Network Rail and any operator that runs the ScotRail franchise – public or private – does so to a tightly specified Scottish government contract.”
She added: “We acknowledge that the performance of the ScotRail Alliance is not good enough, but we are working hard with our clients – Transport Scotland and the Scottish government – to make the changes necessary to improve the service to rail passengers. We are also encouraging Network Rail in particular to raise its game.”
In the past month, customers have complained about train delays of over 30 minutes, which was followed by further criticism as ScotRail left many passengers aground by skipping stops in order to meet timetable targets.
On the 19th of November, 38Degrees launched a petition calling for Abellio to be ‘stripped ‘ of its ownership of ScotRail.
The petition read: “It is vital for Scotland that we have a train service that is affordable and runs on time. ScotRail bosses have been providing a poor service for months and the Scottish Government could be finally about to get tough on them. We can give transport minister, Humza Yousaf, the push he needs to take a hard line with ScotRail.”
Backed by almost 20,000 people, it has since been handed to the Scottish Transport Minister.
Mr Yousaf responded to criticism on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland. He defended Abellio, saying: “It’s not a poor service. Let’s just put this into perspective; 89.8 – that’s almost 90 trains out of 100 – are running to their contractually obligated time. That’s not to say there aren’t problems and there aren’t issues, there are.”
Scotrail and Abellio are currently responding to a storm of criticism following accusations that train journeys across Scotland are slower than they were in the Victorian era.
Their modern fleet of trains they now take seven minutes longer to get from Edinburgh to Dundee than they did in 1895.