Rail travellers across the north-east and Highlands faced a morning of travel chaos as more than 70 train services were cancelled.
ScotRail blamed an early morning signalling fault at Perth which affected services to Aberdeen and Inverness from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Engineers were at the site of the problem just after 6am, and ScotRail announced the issue was cleared by 10am – but the knock-on impact meant many trains still remained cancelled or delayed throughout the day.
NEW: @NetworkRailSCOT have informed us of a fault with the signalling system at #Perth. Services between Glasgow Queen Street &:
• Edinburgh will be cancelled, delayed or revised.
ℹ️⚠️ → https://t.co/J1m2DnhAEG pic.twitter.com/eJPAObB0MM
— ScotRail (@ScotRail) December 17, 2018
It was the latest in a series of blows for Scotrail and rail passengers in the north and north-east who have seen services cancelled in large numbers in recent weeks and months.
A shortage of drivers has seen services withdrawn with unwelcome regularity, causing delays and forcing Scotrail to arrange buses to enable passengers to compete journeys.
The latest delays came just days after it emerged a planned £200 million investment in the east coast line was in severe jeopardy.
And in the Highlands, there was outrage recently over plans to disrupt the north train service for five Sundays in a row – because of work going on more than 100 miles away.
Transport bosses revealed that the investment would make a maximum of two minute’s difference to journey times – rather than the 20 minutes initially suggested.
Kathy Haddow, who lives in Aberdeen, took to Scotrail’s official Facebook page yesterday to make a complaint after her service to work was cancelled.
She said: “ Thanks a lot Scotrail. 05.49 to Aberdeen cancelled this morning and only found out 10 minutes before it was due to leave, when it was posted up on the rolling screen.
“There were no announcements either – I had been standing on the platform for ages at this point.
“Apparently replacement buses were on but this was certainly not advertised at the station.
“No wonder customers are annoyed.”
Recent timetable changes, which included 100 new services, refurbished Intercity high speed trains and the introduction of brand new Hitachi class 385 electric trains, were meant to deliver the “best railway Scotland has ever had”.
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “I am asking the question of the Scottish Government who are ultimately responsible for delivering a reliable train service.
“Abellio is failing to deliver this requirement.
“I’m also one of the people who travels frequently between Aberdeen and the Central Belt.
“The passengers of Aberdeen are being let down on a daily basis.”
ScotRail apologised for the signalling problems and explained that it acted swiftly to arrange for rail tickets to be valid for Stagecoach bus services.
A ScotRail spokesman said: “We’re sorry to our customers who have experienced disruption. The vast majority of our services have run. We’re working hard to improve things.
“Anyone delayed by 30 minutes or more as a result of a cancellation is entitled to compensation through our Delay Repay Guarantee.
“Customers should simply keep hold of their ticket and claim on our website or mobile app.”