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Tracking our trains: Life on the rails around Scotland

STV embarked on train journeys around the country to put our network to the test.

The new-look Dundee station.
The new-look Dundee station. STV

I embarked on a journey around Scotland aiming to cover the major cities and travel at peak times.

It should have begun on Thursday morning with a trip on the Fife line from Glenrothes with Thornton to Edinburgh. Unfortunately, both trains were cancelled.

I saw passengers rushing to catch the bus or back to the car and one lady calling a friend to collect her - all making alternative arrangements just to get to work on time.

But one man told me things have improved lately, saying the service is much better than a year ago.

So with that journey abandoned, I drove to the capital for the day before boarding the 4.30pm Inverurie service to Aberdeen.

This had been booked in advance, including a seat reservation. But once on the train, passengers were told there were no seat bookings due to a "fault with the reservation system".

In stark contrast to the much-vaunted shiny new trains recently introduced on the Edinburgh-Glasgow line, this service was operated by a diesel - the line to Aberdeen isn't electrified.

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1433492-transport-minister-scotrail-passengers-deserve-better/ | default

Neither too, it seems, was my carriage - with a distinct absence of sockets for charging phones or tablets despite the welcome presence of free WiFi.

If that train was probably more suited to a local commuter route than a long-distance one, it confirmed why ScotRail is introducing refurbished InterCity spec trains into these longer journeys.

The next morning I travelled from Aberdeen to Dundee - timings meant this was a CrossCountry service rather than ScotRail and the more comfortable surroundings again gave a preview of what can be expected when the InterCity carriages are operated by ScotRail on a more widespread basis.

In Dundee there's a shiny new station.

Passengers there spoke positively about the train service too, although a couple felt it's too inconsistent to be relied upon.

I then travelled to Glasgow on a ScotRail service which was on time, ran reliably and had seats for almost everyone - further illustration that the problems some passengers highlight tend not to affect to off-peak journeys.

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1433380-scotrail-services-cancelled-due-to-staff-shortages/ | default

From Glasgow I boarded an early evening Queen Street to Waverley service. This was my first time on one of the new electric Class 385s, which have been brought in with much fanfare.

It left a few minutes late but was an efficient, clean, pleasant journey to the capital with plenty of space.

This came after two days when there had been many cancellations and delays on peak time Glasgow and Edinburgh services - which had led to a lot of frustration for a lot of people.

So my trip around the country started badly but got better and better as it went on.

I saw the clear signs of investment, from the new Dundee station to the new trains in the central belt.

But for how passengers feel about ScotRail it may all come back to perception - how many positive experiences does it take to cancel out a bad one?

After all, if you are let down when you have to be somewhere what will it take to make you rely on the trains next time?

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