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Rail chiefs told Fife train services “must improve immediately”, MSPs hear

A new Scotrail Inter7City train.
A new Scotrail Inter7City train.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson has told rail chiefs performance “must improve immediately” to meet standards expected by passengers and the Scottish Government, MSPs have heard.

In Holyrood, SNP Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Annabelle Ewing asked for information on talks between ministers and ScotRail over poor performance on the Fife Circle line.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse revealed Mr Matheson had met with Dominic Booth of Abellio UK last week and ScotRail Alliance managing director Alex Hynes earlier this week.

Mrs Ewing said her constituents are “absolutely fed up” with ScotRail.

“Those in Aberdour and Dalgety Bay face constant delays, cancellations and overcrowding, as do those in Inverkeithing and North Queensferry.

“Those in Cardenden have to put up with the total farce of not knowing whether their train will stop in Cardenden or at some random station that they have not chosen to go to. That is unacceptable.

“I ask the minister to ensure that the cabinet secretary arranges to meet ScotRail again as a matter of urgency to make certain that, as far as the Fife circle is concerned, ScotRail gets the situation back on track.”

Mr Wheelhouse said both he and the cabinet secretary appreciated how frustrating the situation has been, and assured Mrs Ewing that further meetings have been arranged.

Conservative Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alexander Stewart said: “A lack of crew, a lack of rolling stock and chronic overcrowding, together with late running and cancelled trains are an almost everyday occurrence.”

Mr Wheelhouse said significant investment is now being made by the ScotRail Alliance to further improve the rail network’s resilience.

“Those are more immediate interventions,” he added.

“Some examples across Fife include Inverkeithing to Thornton, where five sets of clamp lock points have been renewed, and Inverkeithing to Ladybank, where remote condition monitoring has been installed on clamp lock points at 10 locations.

“Class 158 trains and engine radiator failures are being addressed, and the clutches on the trains are also being looked at.

“Those are all matters that have contributed to the poor performance in that area. As I said to Annabelle Ewing, we take those matters very seriously.”

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