Jackie Baillie demands end to station-skipping at local train stations
Cardross village and the station which trains keep skipping. Pictures by Bill Heaney
Local MSP Jackie Baillie urged the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, to crack down on ScotRail for the high frequency of station-skipping on local rail services.
Challenging the SNP Minister on the issue in the Scottish Parliament this week, Jackie highlighted the huge inconvenience for local commuters when late-running train services miss out stops to make up time.
ScotRail has already confirmed that around ten services per week are cancelled due to station-skipping at Cardross and Jackie Baillie is calling for the publication of local figures for all stations in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh.
The Dumbarton MSP will be meeting Alex Hynes, Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance, in the constituency very soon to discuss the impact of the disruption on local passengers.
Jackie said: “Trains often call at stops as normal but after Dalmuir they whizz past every station until they reach Helensburgh Central or Balloch. Local commuters are being unfairly punished because we live near the end of the line.
“There has been a huge spike in complaints about station-skipping over the past year and it seems to be getting worse. Most passengers had never heard of station-skipping before until fairly recently so this is a problem of ScotRail’s own making.
“The Transport Minister should make it clear to ScotRail that we need an immediate ban on skipping the busiest stations like Dumbarton Central and Cardross, as well as robust action to improve punctuality across the local rail network.”
She told the Scottish Parliament: “The minister knows that passengers on ScotRail services to Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Balloch are frequently affected by station-skipping, and that scheduled services often whizz past Cardross and Dumbarton Central stations without stopping, which leaves passengers stranded. Even the promise to abolish station-skipping during rush hour has been broken. I point out to the minister, as gently as I can, that 0.8 per cent might sound small, but that is 64,000 journeys, and it feels like most of them are happening in my patch. Will the minister ensure that statistics are published for each line and end the practice of station-skipping at key stations, such as Dumbarton Central and Cardross?”
Minister Humza Yousaf said: “I am not sure about the figures that Jackie Baillie quoted, but I certainly have not been dismissive—I hope that that was clear in the tone of all my responses. I have said that I find the practice unacceptable. I have tried to give some context about why stop-skipping might sometimes be necessary, to ensure that the network is not out of kilter for the rest of the day, but I agree with the member that the figures are too high. When I spoke to Alex Hynes, he mentioned that he would continue to be in dialogue with Jackie Baillie, and I think that another meeting with her has been arranged—if not, I think that a meeting will be coming her way. I know that stop-skipping will be on the agenda.”
He added: “I want to correct the record, because the member was wrong when she referred to the promise that was made. It was never said that stop-skipping during peak time would be abolished; it was said that the practice would be minimised. However, that has not happened, and we must ensure that we get back to a position in which stop-skipping is minimised. ScotRail achieved that in the spring and summer of 2017, but autumn and winter performance has not been where we wanted it to be. I hope that the member understands that I am not dismissing passengers’ very real frustrations. As soon as the independent review has been conducted, I hope that we can get ScotRail back on the trajectory of improving performance.”