Probe into rail crisis?

01-09-2015 Picture Sarah Peters.
01-09-2015 Picture Sarah Peters.

TRAIN services between Clydesdale and Glasgow were hit by yet more last-minute cancellations in the past week.

On Friday morning the usual half-hourly service between Lanark/Carluke and the city was reduced to an hourly one, with passengers being told by station staff that this was “due to a shortage of drivers”

Travellers wishing to use at least one usually busy Sunday service back to Clyesdale, the 4.20pm, were told in a station announcemnt that it was cancelled “due to a member of staff being unavailable.”

These latest disruptions came as bosses of the new ScotRail operator Abellio met with two of our area’s MSPs, who were taking up the case on behalf of their increasingly disgruntled constituents.

Both emerged with promises from Abellio that a driver-recruitment campaign would soon ease the problems.

However, Clydesdale’s directly-elected SNP MSP Aileen Campbell said that she was still asking the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister Derek Mackay to look into the series of problems faced by Lanark/Carluke to Glasgow travellers since the Dutch-based rail operator took over the ScotRail franchise in the spring.

She said: “This recruitment is particularly welcome and recognises the need to have enough personnel to provide a good public service. However, I am still incredibly concerned that passengers continue to experience delays and cancellations and still don’t feel they are getting the service that they pay for. That is why I will be taking the issues to the Minister in order that he is fully aware of the situation in Clydesdale.”

Her Labour South of Scotland counterpart, Claudia Beamish MSP, called for a new rail-user pressure group to be set up to act as a local service ‘watchdog’ which would regularly liase with the operator.

Abellio/ScotRail stated that it had been hit by a series of “infrastructure problems”, its spokesman adding: “In addition, there have been train cancellations due to driver shortages, with a higher than normal number of drivers who were sick or unfit for driving duties.

“We made every effort to compensate for call-offs by moving drivers around at short notice, but this was not always possible and can result in trains being cancelled.

“However, we are pleased to report that following discussions with the train drivers’ union, we have reached agreement with them to deliver an improved customer service. This includes the recruitment of up to 100 new drivers.”

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