ScotRail improvement plan to modernise Scotland’s rail services

Scotland’s minister for transport, Humza Yousaf, has outlined a series of key measures and investments that ScotRail will be making to improve its performance.

Speaking at Holyrood on 23 November 2016, Yousaf highlighted a raft of measures that will be made as part of the government’s contract with Scotrail to modernise Scotland’s rail services.

The minister also confirmed that earlier morning commuter services between Inverness and the central belt will begin in mid-December and that work is almost complete to add additional carriages to peak time services on the Borders rail from December to boost capacity on the new line.

The announced actions to improve rail services include:

  • Acceleration of £16m over two years to upgrade key junctions, track and signalling equipment
  • A £5bn, five-year programme to 2019 to transform the railway
  • An extra 200 carriages by 2019: 50% more carriages than in 2007
  • Investing twice as much per capita as the UK government in the existing network
  • 70 new electric trains from 2017 providing up to 40% extra seats at peak times on the main Edinburgh to Glasgow route
  • £475m for new trains and modernising the current fleet to improve reliability and comfort, providing valuable work for Scottish engineering plants in Kilmarnock and Glasgow
  • £14m of investment in improving the reliability and comfort of the class 158 diesel fleet, serving much of rural Scotland
  • An ambitious refurbishment programme underway across 90% of existing rolling stock
  • Increased focus at major stations on prompt departures
  • Measures put in place to reduce skip-stopping during peak times

Commenting on the measures, Yousaf said: “Everyone rightly expects a railway network that operates effectively. So when things go wrong I fully understand the dissatisfaction of passengers and the inconvenience that is caused. Although there are no guarantees major failures won’t happen, I give my reassurance that ScotRail has learned lessons and is far better prepared for contingencies, including communication with passengers, when such incidents do take place.

“The actions we are taking and the long term transformation we have planned underlines this government’s commitment to improving the service received. That is why I instructed an improvement plan. We have accelerated £16m to upgrade key junctions, track and signalling equipment, while £14m is being spent to improve fleet reliability.”

Speaking to MSPs, Yousaf also referred to plans to develop a public sector operator to bid for future franchises. “For future franchises, we stand by our invitation to get round the table with anyone who has a genuine interest in taking forward work on a not-for-profit bid. This does not remove the need for competition as any bid must be tested so we can pick the best option for Scotland’s passengers in an objective manner,” he said.

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