ScotRail targets performance with ‘Golden Trains’

The ScotRail Alliance — the partnership between Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland — has published details on how it plans to improve train service performance in ScotRail following heavy criticism of the system.

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

Stung into action, the ScotRail Alliance on Thursday unveiled a detailed a “Performance Improvement Plan” which includes “the identification, monitoring and protecting of Golden Trains.”

The Alliance said Golden Trains are train services that, if delayed, have the biggest impact on the rest of the rail network.

It said the improvement plan “sets out actions that are being put in place to improve the reliability of trains and to ensure that the train infrastructure – including points, tracks and signals – is operating to its optimum efficiency.”

ScotRail Alliance infrastructure director David Dickson said: “Our railway is undergoing the biggest period of change and modernisation since the Victorian era.

“Over the course of the next year or so we will be completing huge projects to upgrade our infrastructure, electrifying large parts of the network and introducing new fleets of faster, longer greener and intercity trains.

“All of this work will transform rail travel in Scotland. We will have shorter journey times, better equipped trains and, crucially, a huge expansion in the number of services we run and the seats we are able to offer.

“When we complete this work, there will be a hundred thousand more seats available each and every weekday than there was at the start of the current Franchise.

“With this amount of change, there is inevitably some disruption. We are doing everything we can to minimise this – such as the work we did to keep people moving during the closure of the Queen Street Tunnel.

“However, there is no doubt that our performance in recent months, as a result of all of this work, has dipped slightly.

“The plan we are publishing today details how we bring it back to the level that our customers expect and that we want to deliver.”

Transport minister Yousaf said: “Scotland’s railways are currently more popular than ever with 95.5 million journeys made in 2015-16, up by a third since 2007.

“We recognise the pressure this continuing popularity places on some services …

“ScotRail will shortly be commencing the installation of passenger counting equipment on trains which will help to identify ‘busier’ services.

“This will in turn allow ScotRail to better focus the provision of rolling stock onto the rail network.

“I note that some extra trains will be introduced in Strathclyde in the coming months and looking ahead 23% more seats will be provided across all services by 2019.

“This includes a new fleet of faster trains on the Glasgow-Edinburgh line from next Autumn, longer high speed trains on inter-city routes with 40% more seats than today, plus a revolution in rail which delivers 200 additional services and 20,000 extra seats.”