Passengers using a ‘vital lifeline’ to the north were left angry after three peak-time cancellations on the route in as many days.
The Far North Line connects Inverness and Wick stations with 24 stops in between.
But the 17.12 Inverness to Ardgay service was cancelled on July 10, 11 and 12 because of technical faults with the train.
Passenger Chris Sellers, of Portmahomack, commutes daily to and from his job in Inverness as director of human resources at the University of the Highlands and Islands.
He was affected by the train cancellations on all three occasions and said he is “unhappy” with the service in general.
The 52-year-old added: “We would like to be told when this happens, what’s going to happen and what plan is in place. But we end up standing around waiting for someone to tell us something because they (train station staff) disappear.”
Mr Sellars suspects there are not enough spare trains in the north, adding: “Having that capacity there is important, but we’re not being told if this is a problem. If we understood what their problems were we might be more sympathetic but it’s the lack of communication that feeds into it and the feelings of resentment.”
Another passenger from Beauly who did not wish to be named was affected on two of the three cancelled trains, branding it “shocking”, adding: “We don’t know whether we’re coming or going sometimes.”
Earlier this summer, it emerged that rail services to the far north were by far the worst-performing in Scotland, with 64.2 per cent of trains arriving at Wick station within five minutes of their scheduled time – the lowest rate in the country.
Highlands and Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, said: “I realise that faults do happen from time to time, but it’s hard not to conclude that there’s something amiss when it happens three days in a row. Abellio/ScotRail needs to do better.”
Gail Ross, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross added: “I am very frustrated to hear that there have been cancellations on this route, particularly given its importance to families during the busy summer holidays. Visitors and locals alike use this service for work and pleasure and for the service to suffer like this is totally unacceptable.”
Kirsteen Currie, Highland councillor for North, West and Central Sutherland, said: “Public transport in remote and rural areas is a vital lifeline for many.”
A ScotRail Alliance spokesperson said: “We understand it is extremely frustrating for customers when we have to cancel a service at short notice. Our fitter attended to work on the trains to ensure we get them back to service as quickly as we can and in this instance one train had the same fault occur on two consecutive days despite this attention.
“We remind customers to retain their tickets as they may be eligible for compensation under our Delay Repay scheme.”