Abellio ‘could lose ScotRail if service worsens’

The Scottish Government’s transport minister Humza Yousaf has warned in a newspaper interview that Dutch firm Abellio’s £7 billion contract to run ScotRail could be terminated if train delays and cancellations get any worse.

According to The Sunday Mail, the 10-year contract has a clause allowing it to be cancelled if only 84.3% of trains are on time or less than five minutes late.

Yousaf told the newspaper: “If the service further declines, there’s a mechanism to terminate the contract early.

“I want improvement and we will use every lever to make sure that we improve our railway.”

Under the current contract, Abellio are expected to meet a target of 91.3% of trains arriving at their destination within five minutes of their scheduled time, the newspaper said.

But the latest performance figure was 89.6%.

The newspaper said that if it falls to 84.3% for three months in a row, or four months out of 13, the Scottish Government can cancel the agreement.

“I don’t find the performance level acceptable at all,” Yousaf told the newspaper.

“They have put in an improvement plan and I’ll work with them. We’ll monitor it to see how it progresses.

“But make no mistake about it, if that improvement is not forthcoming, there’s a reason why we have a break clause in the contract.”

Yousaf said he regularly commutes to Holyrood on the train.

“As someone who uses the train – most of my parliament journeys to Edinburgh are at peak time – I understand the frustrations that people feel.

“There is overcrowding, capacity issues, trains skipping stops, issues around reliability and communication.

“All these are at a level that is unacceptable to me. Abellio have some very ambitious plans for our railways in the future.

“What I’ve said to them is the shiny bells and whistles are great, but now get back to the basics – reliability, capacity.

“Get on to that and make this a good experience for the passenger.”