Parliamentarians issue county service challenge to ScotRail chief

County parliamentarians Iain Gray MSP and Martin Whitfield MP have written to the Managing Director of ScotRail to highlight the ongoing failings of local rail services and challenge him to meet the various promises the company has made on improving services in the county.

Their latest intervention comes after numerous complaints from constituents regarding further deterioration in local services over recent weeks following the introduction of new timetables from 9 December.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Last month, rail users experienced another catalogue of cancelled and overcrowded rail services here in East Lothian and across Scotland. These ongoing service failures are unacceptable and let down local people who rely on the trains to get to work.

“I have been raising these issues with ScotRail and the Scottish Government for years, but the regular promises of improved services are never met. On top of the failing services, commuters have now seen fares rise by nearly 3% this year.

“I hope to meet with the Transport Secretary in the coming weeks to raise these issues once again. In the meantime I want answers from Alex Hynes on when local rail users will finally see the improvements they have been promised so many times.”

Martin Whitfield MP said:

“It is now some eight months since the rail public meeting Iain and I organised. At that meeting, ScotRail representatives gave various commitments on forthcoming service improvements, but the reality for rail users has been continued service disruptions and overcrowding.

“While these delays, cancellations and overcrowded services affect rail users throughout East Lothian, I know that people using the trains at Wallyford and Musselburgh have been particularly hard hit, often unable even to access key services due to overcrowding.

“It is not acceptable for East Lothian to be treated as a forgotten part of the rail network. ScotRail needs to act immediately to meet the commitments it has made to rail users here and deliver the reliable and comfortable service local people deserve.”

The full text of the letter to Alex Hynes, ScotRail’s Managing Director, is as follows:

Dear Mr Hynes,

We are writing in response to the update you provided at the end of last year.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas we were inundated with complaints from constituents across East Lothian regarding the abysmal failure of numerous ScotRail services. These included reports of several cancelled services, as well as serious overcrowding on some services to the point where passengers described feeling unsafe on the train.

As you will be aware, two public meetings on local rail services have been organised in the last 20 months. At both of these meetings, various promises and commitments were made by ScotRail Alliance staff concerning planned improvements aimed at tackling the ongoing delays, overcrowding and cancellations experienced by rail users in East Lothian.

Eight months on from the last meeting, and past the December commitment for new, longer trains to be regularly in use in East Lothian, our constituents are arguably experiencing services which are more overcrowded and unreliable than ever. With the number of houses continuing to grow rapidly across our County, this is only set to get worse unless ScotRail seriously gets to grips with the problems faced by rail users.

We are now seeking further urgent assurances that service improvements in East Lothian will be prioritised and the commitments given at the two public meetings met, in order to deliver the reliable, modern services our constituents have long been promised.

We look forward to your reply on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Iain Gray MSP          Martin Whitfield MP
East Lothian             East Lothian