The Scottish Labour candidate in the Arbroath by-election has called on Holyrood for urgent action on the punctuality of trains serving the town.
John Ruddy said: “The latest punctuality figures from ScotRail show that barely 10 per cent of trains terminating at Arbroath are on time – and only 40 per cent of through-trains are on time, one of the worst figures in the country.
“Arbroath commuters face a double whammy with the practice of skip-stopping. Only last week, ScotRail cancelled the stop at Arbroath for a late running service to Aberdeen, forcing passengers to get out at Dundee and wait for the following train. As a regular train user myself, I know this happens all too often – and it is simply a device to fiddle the figures.
“We need concrete action from the SNP Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, Transport Scotland and ScotRail on tackling the very real problems affecting our trains in Arbroath. Not warm words and a glossy brochure more concerned with the Central Belt and saying how wonderful ScotRail is. The SNP and Angus Council have been strangely quiet in demanding improvements locally, which is why I believe we need fresh new councillors to stand up for Arbroath and the Angus area.”
In response, MSP for Angus South Graeme Dey said: “The punctuality of Scotrail trains calling at Arbroath station is clearly not good enough, although it is worth noting that the figure concerning trains terminating in Arbroath covers only one train!
“Humza Yousaf, the Transport Minister has made clear that Scotrail’s performance level is not acceptable, which is why an improvement plan has been put in place, that plan includes specific action points for Angus.
“The Scottish Government is closely monitoring how it is being implemented and it is expecting improvements to be made by Scotrail. There is a stringent inspection regime in place for Scotrail-as shown by the fine of £483,000 recently imposed on it.
“Beyond that the Scottish Government’s commitment to improving access to rail down the coastal strip has been amply demonstrated by the announcement earlier this year of a forthcoming hourly service from 2018 and planned improvements to the line a few miles north of the town which will further open up the route to traffic.
“Criticism of Angus Council around rail is similarly wide of the mark. The council is extremely active within the Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities, which is making the case for an investment of £3 billion along the route to deliver a predicted £9 billion in economic benefit.”