Commuters were faced with disruption on one of the first days under Scotrail’s controversial rail fare increase.
Scotrail’s Intercity service ran from Edinburgh to Aberdeen at 7.30am, and from Aberdeen to Edinburgh at 11am.
But despite the newly upgraded service itself running smoothly yesterday, early morning commuters were still faced with delays and cancellations.
Yesterday’s 5.32am Elgin to Edinburgh Scotrail service was cancelled and a minibus was arranged for travellers, with one passenger saying he received “no explanation” for the cancellation.
And Colin Beaton, who was due on the 7.26am service from Dyce to Aberdeen, said he had simply “had enough” after it failed to appear.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
He said: “On January 2 no train. Today a cancelled train. Prices up. Sheer unpredictability up. I’m finding another way.”
In the afternoon, a signalling fault at Dunkeld and Birnam caused knock-on delays for services between Inverness and Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh for a number of hours.
Alex Hynes, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, apologised to customers in the wake of the latest disruption.
— Tricia G (@ChaaChaa_G) January 3, 2019
Not a happy customer @ScotRail train from Aberdeen to Glasgow cancelled and the replacement bus drivers are refusing to take us to our destination…its cold i have 2 kids should be putting us in taxis to take us home pic.twitter.com/xrNQv2bwpw
— Kevin Morrison (@KevinMozza) December 29, 2018
And so it continues, first day back to work & my train home is cancelled! Same old @ScotRail
— Angela Bennett (@dalgetyrocks) January 3, 2019
He said: “We know this isn’t acceptable and say sorry to our customers for this.”
He explained that the disruption has been caused by two key factors, the first of which was the late delivery of new trains by Hitachi and Wabtec.
Some day-to-day services had to be cancelled to allow staff to take part in training on the new trains.
The second reason , Mr Hynes explained, was strike action.
He said: “RMT industrial action meant there was an overtime ban for some of our people, which lasted for several weeks.
“This is now resolved but made the problem of train crew training worse.
“Training is ongoing so that we can get services back to normal and we can expect an improvement in the coming weeks.
“But while we continue to train our conductors and drivers, some disruption will remain.”
ScotRail has continued to face criticism over the 2.8% increase in average rail fares, in light of the significant number of delayed and cancelled services in recent weeks.
Peak-time season tickets and anytime day tickets in Scotland are now 3.2% more expensive, while the capped increase of off-peak fares is 2.2%.
The rise comes at a challenging time for the train operator as cancellations throughout November and December breached required performance targets, prompting the Scottish government to demand ScotRail publish a plan on how it will improve.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “While any fare increase is unwelcome, calls for a fares freeze underestimate the impact of these on the public purse.
“The average fares increases in Scotland at 2.8% are lower than those in England and Wales, which are 3.1%.
“Two-thirds of the cost of running the railway is already met through Scottish government subsidy, with the remainder through rail passenger revenues.
“Any change to rail fares could therefore have a significant impact on the taxpayer.”
Speaking on the first of the refurbished Inter7City trains entering service yesterday, a ScotRail spokesperson added: “The first of our upgraded Inter7City high-speed trains has received very positive feedback from our customers and we’re working flat out to get more upgraded trains into service as quickly as possible.
“The investment we are making – the Aberdeen to Inverness improvement programme, Inter7City trains connecting Scotland’s seven cities and in the redevelopment of Inverness and Aberdeen station – means it’s an exciting time for this part of the country.”