A ScotRail apology to disgruntled passengers and a promise of compensation was attacked by politicians for being “just not good enough” yesterday.
The train operator announced its “extra compensation” scheme as unions protested against rising fares and delays.
The TSSA union held a demonstration outside Glasgow Central Station and called for Michael Matheson to be axed as Transport Secretary to ensure Abellio is stripped of the ScotRail contract.
The introduction of a new timetable in December saw a number of services cancelled.
Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance managing director, admitted that the operator has fallen below the standards expected by customers.
“We are very sorry to our ScotRail customers for unacceptable service in parts of the country recently,” said Mr Hynes.
Conductors and drivers being trained on new trains and routes has been blamed as a major reason for the disruption, with training expected to continue into February.
Compensation is already available to passengers who are delayed by more than 30 minutes under ScotRail’s Delay Repay Guarantee – with 50% of the cost of a single ticket or 25% of the cost of a return ticket paid back.
Yesterday ScotRail offered extra compensation, which will apply to season ticket holders (plus a guest) who use routes that have been most affected by cancellations.
But the free travel scheme will only apply for six specified weekends in March, April and May 2019.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Colin Smyth MSP said: “Any measure to give hard-pressed commuters some respite from the misery they face daily on Scotland’s railways is welcome, but this gimmick is just not good enough. Fares have risen again meaning annual season tickets on many routes now cost well in excess of £4,000 and the popular Kids Go Free scheme has been scrapped.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard attended the protest and backs union calls for the railway franchise to be removed from Dutch operator Abellio and returned to public ownership.
Liz Warren-Corney of the TSSA said Transport Secretary Michael Matheson would have to leave his post for this to happen as she believes he is “ideologically in favour of privatisation” unlike her view of his predecessor Humza Yousaf.
Questioned if Mr Matheson would have to go to achieve change, she said: “Yes. I don’t think that would be a bad thing.
“The job of Transport Secretary is to stand up for passengers and when it comes to ScotRail, he has done anything but.”
A Scottish Government spokesman called on the UK Government to devolve all rail matters.
An Abellio spokesman said: “Abellio’s focus is on delivering the existing franchise to the highest possible standards.”