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Rail passengers deserve better, says transport minister

Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.
Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf has said rail passengers “deserve better” as he viewed the latest upgrades to train services.

There has been widespread criticism of the reliability of ScotRail trains since Dutch firm Abellio took over the franchise and Mr Yousaf apologised to passengers in the Scottish Parliament last week over recent disruption.

Visiting Edinburgh Waverley on Tuesday to see a £19 million upgrade to trains running between Edinburgh and Helensburgh and Milngavie, he said a “250-point plan” will be published shortly for ScotRail to act on.

Mr Yousaf said: “Passengers expect better and we’re investing in train technology, track operations, and hopefully they will see that improvement.

“I understand passenger frustration. The standards that they expect are not being met and the standards that I expect ScotRail to meet are not being met either. So, I understand their frustration but improvements are being made here and now.

“If you take the last eight-week period there has been an improvement from 89.5% to 89.9% of that ppm (performance and punctuality measure) figure, but I want to see more improvements and I want to see passengers have a better experience right here right now.”

He added: “Passengers and commuters in Scotland certainly deserve better, but let’s put that into some context.

“Trains in Scotland are running better than across the rest of the United Kingdom. Also, our satisfaction is better too.

“Things are not as good as they should be and standards are not as good as I would expect, but there’s an improving picture and I want to see it continue improving.”

The latest upgrade of the fleet of c334 trains will increase the number of six-car trains able to run on the network and improve reliability, Transport Scotland said.

Phil Verster, ScotRail alliance managing director, said: “It is another milestone achievement in our overall train improvement programme, which sees £475 million spent on refurbishments and new trains for Scotland’s railway.

“We are going through the biggest improvement in our railway since the Victorian era and this investment in our rolling stock is another significant signal of our determination to deliver a railway of which Scotland can be proud.”

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