Public outcry over disruption which MSP will raise it at Holyrood

By Bill Heaney and Lucy Ashton

Constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, will raise the poor and unreliable train service experienced by people in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh in the Scottish Parliament this week.

Over the past month, train services to and from the area have been delayed or cancelled on a regular basis.

Just last week, train services were disrupted for five days in a row beginning with the delayed works to replace the Bonhill Road railway bridge. The works over-ran which meant train services did not start in time for the morning rush hour forcing passengers to find alternative means of transport. That alone, whilst inconvenient, would have been understandable but there have been weeks of cancellations and delays on rush hour services.

This has meant that constituents had to cancel NHS appointments and some have struggled to explain to their employers why it has taken them up to 3 hours to get to their work in the morning, when they have been consistently late. To make matters worse, the contingency planning has failed with insufficient buses acting as replacements and commuters not being able to use their tickets on First Bus services after Clydebank.

Baillie Jackie MSP fishingJackie Baillie, pictured right, said: “In the past month, the railway lines which serve my constituency have been disrupted almost daily. I have had countless numbers of emails, tweets and messages from constituents who have been left stranded at stations unable to get to and from work. Quite simply it is an appalling lack of service and ScotRail is failing local commuters.

“To make matters worse, the agreement that ScotRail has with First Bus only allows passengers to use train tickets on their buses east of Dalmuir. This means passengers from my constituency are paying twice for travel – once with their rail passes and a second time for a bus ticket when trains are cancelled.

“I have already raised the issue with ScotRail at their event in Parliament this week, but intend to raise it with the Cabinet Secretary in the chamber next week as the situation appears to be getting worse. It is simply ridiculous to expect people to pay more and more for their train travel at the same time that the service is so poor. The people of this area deserve better from ScotRail.”

Earlier today ScotRail made the following announcement through West Dunbartonshire Council, but still no one seems to have a clue what’s happening from hour to hour:

Due to a safety inspection of the track between Balloch and Dumbarton Central, the line is closed.

A report of a track defect mean it is unsafe to run trains until the area is assessed. ScotRail staff are en route but disruption is expected to last until 2pm.

This means train services between Airdrie and Balloch will be terminated at Dumbarton Central, and will start the return journey at Dumbarton Central. Trains will no longer call at Dalreoch, Renton, Alexandria and Balloch.

ScotRail has requested buses at Balloch and Dumbarton Central, and two Carrs of Loch Lomond buses will be on site at Balloch from approximately 11:15.

Please check with ScotRail for further updates.

And commuters are now raging with ScotRail and not holding back on social media.

Vikki Rundell told friends on Facebook: “I’m definitely driving. The trains are never back on when they say they will be.”

Michelle McGinty said: “Just remembered to check when we got to Dumbarton Central and both the Helensburgh and Balloch trains were cancelled so had to get a bus to Dalmuir.”

Karen Hay said: “Cross country runners from the local schools will be affected by this as they’re in Balloch this morning. Some have used the train from Clydebank”

George Duncan Spence said: “Yesterday a train broke down so trains were cancelled again. Always one thing after another.”

Lee Smillie asked: “What will be happening with the children from West Dunbartonshire schools who have travelled from Clydebank down to Balloch for the cross country. Has there been any transport put on for them?”

Lyndsey Spencer said: “Absolutely shocking. I was stuck in Glasgow for nearly 4 hour’s last night due to Scot Rail not communicating with their customers. Why bother getting the train?”

Someone seemed content, however. Catherine McDonald said: “I would rather they cancelled or terminated trains due to safety than taking a chance. I would say well done ScotRail keeping passenger safety a priority.”

But Nikky Hall said: “As if it’s not bad enough with this train company always failing their customers but we live in an area that is bad with traffic and roads could close to due to an accident so then there is no way in or out and then the hospital isn’t in full operation.”

Taxi men were cashing in. Brian Lynch said: “Wright’s taxis run 24/7. And are more than happy to get you safely to your destination. That’s Wright’s taxis. 01389721020.”

David Logan asked: “How are ScotRail/Network rail getting away with this? There’s hardly a day goes by that there isn’t some shambles. Since Abellio took over its become one of the most inefficient and badly run railways in the UK.”

Mary Macdonald said: “They would be as well building a wall round west Dumbarton and leave us to rot. No [transport] facilities, nothing works what next?”

Veronica Roberts said: “Every day this week problems they are an absolute joke.”

Neither Jonathan McColl, the leader of the Council, not the Council communications department would speak to The Democrat.

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