‘Significant improvements’ needed at ScotRail to meet targets

By Lewis McKenzie, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland
The rail operator responded by admitted its services are not currently as good as they should be.

The performance of ScotRail must significantly improve in order to meet its agreed targets, according to a new report.

Consultancy firm Nichols conducted analysis into whether the rail operator is making progress on recommendations made in an independent review published last year.

The Donovan Review, commissioned by the ScotRail Alliance and led by former TransPennine Express managing director Nick Donovan, made 20 recommendations on how ScotRail could improve its quality of service.

Nichols concluded that although ScotRail has made efforts to implement the recommendations, recent declines in performance had “raised questions” over when the benefits will be seen.

The Nichols report stated: “Despite the evidence of significant activity in regard to the implementation of the recommendations since the publication of the Donovan report, there has been a further decline in performance and this raises questions about when the positive effects from implementation of the recommendations will materialise.

“Performance of the railway in Scotland needs to significantly improve and it is acknowledged that this is a priority for Transport Scotland and other stakeholders.

“Our discussions with the Alliance team, both in their offices and on site, confirm that this is fully understood at all levels, and that very significant effort is being made to deliver improvements through the implementation of the Donovan recommendations.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has warned Abellio it could be stripped of the ScotRail franchise if performance does not improve.

There have been a number of cancellations across the service following the introduction of a new timetable in December, with delays in acquiring new trains and the subsequent training of staff given as key reasons behind the problems.

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said the rail operator acknowledges performance has not been good enough.

He said: “We’re really sorry to customers for the recent disruption to services. We know the impact this has on your day and are working flat out to get things back to normal.

“Actions from the Donovan Review have been praised in the Nichols report, and these actions have seen the banning of skip-stopping except as a last resort and improvements in train reliability.

“But our performance is not where we want it to be, and as this year progresses our customers will see improvements.”