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Train passengers deserve better, says transport secretary

Michael Matheson said ScotRail's communication with passengers was 'not up to standard'.

ScotRail: Passengers 'deserve better'.
ScotRail: Passengers 'deserve better'. PA

ScotRail passengers "deserve better" and should be informed of delays and cancellations, Scotland's transport secretary has said.

Michael Matheson said the rail operator's communication with passengers over problems caused by a shortage of train crew in recent days, leading to an "unacceptable level of cancellations" was "not up to standard".

Passengers around Scotland were disrupted after trains were cancelled to enable staff to be trained ahead of a new timetable coming into force this Sunday, with around 50 services dropped on Monday and Tuesday.

Mr Matheson said he had a meeting on Tuesday with ScotRail Alliance managing director Alex Hynes who said the problem was caused by a combination of a delay in the arrival of refurbished rolling stock from Hitachi leading to training delays, along with an industrial dispute.

RMT union members have banned overtime in a row over being paid less than train drivers for working on rest days.

"I understand there has been a convergence of challenging issues that they have had to try and manage and deal with as best they can, however, the travelling public deserve better."
Michael Matheson.

Mr Matheson told Holyrood's Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee the level of cancellations over the weekend and at the start of the week was "unacceptable".

He added: "What I've also made clear to [ScotRail] is that the communication of the significant impact these cancellations were having on the travelling public was not to the standard I expect.

"I understand there has been a convergence of challenging issues that they have had to try and manage and deal with as best they can, however, the travelling public deserve better.

"They should have communicated that much more clearly, at a much earlier stage, to allow the public to understand the potential impact it would have had on the services they were looking to use."

A ScotRail spokesman said: "We're sorry to our customers who have experienced disruption to their journey.

"The majority of the impact is a result of our final push to deliver the December timetable improvements which will bring faster journeys, more seats and better services for customers."

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