Scotrail Fined £576,000

The amount charged in penalties after some rail facilities failed to meet inspectors' standards totalled more than half a million pounds, new figures have revealed.

A report showing the quality of rail and passenger services for the final year of the previous ScotRail franchise shows there was an increase in the number of fines for train cleanliness and graffiti.

It covers the performance of the FirstGroup-operated franchise from April 1 last year until the new Abellio-ScotRail franchise started on March 31 2015.

An inspection team monitored areas of station and train service quality, including ticket offices, shelters, graffiti and timetables. For trains it includes seating, cleanliness, toilets and staff.

The operator was checked as part of Transport Scotland's SQUIRE (Service Quality Incentive Regime) programme.

ScotRail is given bonuses for good performances and penalties for areas that fall below the benchmark.

Penalties incurred totalled £576,000, an increase of £127,000 compared to last year - but improvements were noted over the period in areas including station graffiti and shelters.

Derek Mackay, minister for transport, said: ''SQUIRE is commonly recognised as one of the most rigorous and effective method of performance assessment for any rail franchise in the UK.

''I am confident that the system of penalties and rewards which are awarded through SQUIRE is very effective at driving up the standard of Scotland's railways, a fact which is repeatedly borne out by the National Rail Passenger Survey time and again places ScotRail above the UK average in terms of passenger satisfaction and performance.

''Transport Scotland are continuing to work with the new franchise holder to ensure that these high standards are upheld, that management are focussing on addressing the issues that are most important to the public, and that we continue to run a safe, clean and reliable rail service across the whole of Scotland.''

The report usually covers an annual period from June but because the franchise ended on March 31, the figures cover from April 1 to March 31.

A FirstGroup spokesman said: ''In 11 years of operation, First ScotRail invested more than #82 million in Scotland's railways, delivering increased frequencies, upgrades to trains and stations and increasing the number of passengers by 34%.

''Customer satisfaction with First ScotRail was at 87% in the spring 2015 National Rail Passenger Survey - seven points higher than the national UK average, and five points higher than when we took over the franchise.

''Our achievements were recognised by the industry as First ScotRail was awarded the title of Rail Operator of the Year three times in the last six years.''

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