Ticket price rises defended by ScotRail, as Helensburgh service remains dogged by problems

Trains to and from Helensburgh Central station have been delayed or cancelled

ScotRail has defended its performance after being attacked by MSP Jackie Baillie for increasing fares this week – despite half the trains to Helensburgh arriving late.

The company insisted that the practice of ‘station skipping’, which infuriates commuters from stations such as Cardross, was not done to meet performance targets.

Ms Baillie, the Labour MSP for Dumbarton, this week renewed calls for a fair deal for rail passengers and a publicly-owned People’s ScotRail as commuters faced increased prices when they return to work this week.

And the 17.32 train from Queen Street to Helensburgh Central was once again limited to three carriages today, meaning many commuters faced overcrowding at the end of their first day back at work.

Regulated rail fares in Scotland are increasing by up to 3.6%, so a peak return to Glasgow costs £10.60 from Helensburgh, £11.80 from Gourock and £12.40 from Garelochhead.

Jackie Baillie: Passengers have been let down

The increases come after weeks of delays and cancellations on the Helensburgh line in the last weeks of 2017.

Ms Baillie said: “ScotRail has let local passengers down with delays, cancellations and overcrowded services at rush hour.

“There has also been a huge increase in station-skipping locally, where passengers have been left stranded because late-running trains rush through stations without stopping to make up time.

“Commuters in Scotland already pay some of the highest fares of any passengers in Western Europe yet the service they receive is simply not good enough.”

She said latest figures showed more than half of trains arrived late at Helensburgh, but a ScotRail spokesman argued that these ‘on-time arrivals’ figures which were introduced in 2015 used a ‘tough but ambitious’ measure of 59 seconds, rather than five minutes, behind schedule.

In October 2016 ScotRail confirmed to this website that the busiest train from Helensburgh to Glasgow has been at least five minutes late on 68% of the days since a new, reduced timetable was brought in.

The ScotRail spokesman said regulated peak fares were set by the Scottish Government and the 3.2% increase was below the UK average of 3.4%.

He added: “85% of our revenue comes from fares set by the Scottish Government, which decides how much our customers pay.

“We are investing millions of pounds to build the best railway Scotland has ever had. The autumn and winter seasons present difficulties for the railway, and this year has been no different. Despite this, we remain the best performing large operator in the UK.

“We will continue to work night and day to deliver the best service for our customers in Dumbarton, Helensburgh, the Vale of Leven and beyond.”

1 Comment

  1. Afraid I don’t buy the line about station skippping not being about targets – the aim is to try and get the next trip (leaving Helensburgh or wherever) starts in time so has a chance of meeting the target. This NEVER happened before Abellio cane along

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