Scottish Labour steps up rail public ownership campaign

24 June 2018, 06:21 | Updated: 24 June 2018, 06:32

ScotRail train

Scottish Labour is to step up its campaign for public ownership of the railways after figures showed ScotRail missed performance targets throughout the last year.

The operator is required to have a specific percentage of trains arrive on time during 13 periods across the year but fell short throughout 2017/18.

The Public Performance Measure (PPM), which looks at service punctuality and reliability, varies across each period.

In the first section of 2017/18 performance was 90.4% with the target set at 91.35%, while in the final period of the year PPM was 89.5% with a target of 91.9%.

The closest performance to the target was in the sixth period of the year when the PPM was 91.2% with a target of 91.58%.

Labour said the franchise is "failing customers" and wants to see public ownership of Scotland's railways as the East Coast Main Line returns to public control.

Virgin Trains East Coast ran services on the route for the final day on Saturday following the failure of the franchise.

The London North Eastern Railway brand has been resurrected from the 1940s to operate the service which connects London King's Cross to stations in the North and Scotland including York, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Scottish Labour's Transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: "It is absolutely shocking that ScotRail has failed to meet any of its punctuality targets for 2017/18.

"Hard-pressed passengers are paying up to a fifth of their wages on commuting costs, but all they get in return is delayed, over-crowded trains that cannot be guaranteed to stop at the right stations.

"SNP Transport Minister Humza Yousaf needs to get a grip and put Scotland's rail passengers out of their misery by ending the current franchise.

"Labour believes in public ownership of our railways - and these figures shows why more and more commuters in Scotland agree that we need to remove control of our trains from those who put profit before passengers."

A ScotRail spokesman said: "The most recent published figures show that nine out of ten ScotRail trains met their punctuality target.

"We also pledged to suspend skip-stopping, except as a last resort, and that is exactly what has happened. Customers are feeling the benefit of this improvement, but we know that there is more to do to deliver the service they deserve."

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: "It was the SNP government which secured the right for a public sector operator to bid for the franchise, after being repeatedly denied that right by successive Labour and Tory governments.

"Labour say they want rail to be nationalised - but the Welsh Government has just handed a contract for Wales' rail service to two private firms.

"ScotRail's performance is better than England and Wales as a whole and have been improving in performance with over 90% of trains arriving within PPM.

"We should also not lose sight of the transformational process under way on our railways in terms of infrastructure enhancements, as well as the introduction of new and fully refurbished rolling stock with the additional services that they will provide.

"Meanwhile, I am already delivering on our very clear commitment to ensure there can be a public sector bid for future rail franchises and will give an update shortly.

"Labour would be better thanking railway staff for their efforts in helping build the best railway Scotland has ever had, rather than talk it down."