MSP meets ScotRail for talks on skip stopping, services and pupil safety
Getting rail services back on track (left-right): Bob Murray, Duncan Stirling, Alex Hynes, Jackie Baillie and Tony Davey.
MSP Jackie Baillie has welcomed a commitment from the Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance, Alex Hynes, to take action to get rail services back on track in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond.
The commitment came during a meeting on Monday in Cardross between ScotRail, Jackie Baillie MSP and representatives from Cardross Community Council. Passengers using the Helensburgh – Edinburgh line rank among the worst hit in Scotland by station-skipping – when late-running trains speed past pre-planned stops to make up time.
New figures disclosed at the meeting by ScotRail backed up anecdotal evidence from local passengers and confirmed that levels of station-skipping on local services had been well above the national average over the past year.The figures do show a more than 50 per cent reduction in the level of skip-stopping on local services since December, however.
The Public Performance Measure which tracks ScotRail’s punctuality and reliability on Cardross services has dipped as low as 63.6 per cent during the autumn/winter period compared to a target of 91.3 per cent. In some months as many as one in twenty services due to call at Cardross were affected by station-skipping. There has been some improvement in recent weeks and the Public Perfomance Measure now stands at 84.5 per cent but Jackie Baillie said there is still a lot of work to do to give local passengers the service they deserve.
Mr Hynes confirmed that ScotRail is taking immediate action to reduce the level of station-skipping in the short term by instructing the control centre to minimise the usage of the practice. Following concerns raised by parents of children in Cardross who attend school at Hermitage Academy, ScotRail will also make the control centre aware of which services are used often by pupils to ensure that young people get to school safely and return home on time.
Over the medium to long term rail bosses will investigate the root causes of the disruption on our local rail network and make any necessary operational changes to avoid the need for station-skipping in future.
Cardross Station, where safety for school pupils using it will receive priority. Picture by Bill Heaney
Jackie said: “I am grateful to Alex Hynes for coming to Cardross and listening to the concerns of local passengers. This was a very productive meeting and ScotRail left with a much fuller understanding of the scale of the impact of station-skipping on residents in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond.
“After months of campaigning, I am pleased that ScotRail has finally committed to tougher action to improve our local services. There has been a drop in station-skipping over the past eight weeks and we need to ensure that this progress is sustained in the long term.
“There is a window of opportunity over the spring and summer months to improve our local rail services and stamp out the need for station-skipping in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond.
“Autumn is always the most disruptive time of year for train operators so I am pleased that Mr Hynes has agreed to visit Cardross and Dumbarton again in six months to discuss progress.”
Alex Hynes, Managing Director of the ScotRail Alliance, added: “It was great to meet with Jackie Baillie and members of the Cardross Community Council, to hear their views on the ScotRail Alliance. Our performance hasn’t been good enough in recent months, but these figures show that things are improving. More of our trains are arriving on time, and we have reduced skip-stopping by more than 50 per cent in recent months. We’re working hard to reduce this even further.
“Skip-stopping is something that we only do when absolutely necessary, to prevent further disruption across the network. I am very clear that it should always be a last resort.”