RED-FACED Scotrail chiefs have admitted that a virtually empty train skipped stations in West Fife – because they thought too many passengers might get on.

The startling revelation came as part of the Press’ Crush Hour campaign.

ScotRail insist skipping stations isn’t a decision they take lightly and has only happened on the 0709 Dundee to Edinburgh train in recent weeks because of overcrowding.

A full service from Kirkcaldy has meant that Kinghorn (0801), Burntisland (0806), Aberdour (0811) and Dalgety Bay (0815) stations are missed out.

But, in our campaign, the Press has obtained a picture showing that the service on January 4 that skipped these stations barely had anyone on it when it left Kirkcaldy.

When confronted with the photo, ScotRail had to come clean and said: “On Thursday, the train ran with fewer carriages than it was supposed to, again due to a train fault, and with no spare trains in our Perth Depot (where this train originates from in the morning) to run in its place.

"Following the challenges we faced prior to Christmas, we made the difficult decision to miss out Kinghorn, Burntisland, Aberdour and Dalgety Bay in an attempt to avoid disruption by lots of customers attempting to board a potentially full train.

"However, passenger numbers on Thursday were lower than we had anticipated – possibly due to customers taking extended Christmas holidays – and we apologise to the customers it affected at Kinghorn, Burntisland, Aberdour and Dalgety Bay.”

Scotrail have come under fire for skipping West Fife stations on several occasions within the past month, with the 0815 service from Dalgety Bay cancelled on SEVEN occasions since November 28.

Commuters trying to get to work in Edinburgh from both Aberdour and Dalgety Bay have been forced to watch helplessly as their trains speeds past them and through to Inverkeithing.

Challenged by the Press as to why these stations were being missed out so regularly, ScotRail said the 0815 Dalgety Bay to Edinburgh service had been running with three carriages instead of the intended five due to a fault with two carriages and a lack of spare trains at their Perth depot.

They say the service is then full when it leaves Kirkcaldy and so drivers have been told to to skip to skip Kinghorn, Burntisland, Aberdour and Dalgety and run directly to Inverkeithing.

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “We know that incidents like this are incredibly frustrating for our customers, which is why they are a last resort to minimise further disruption across the network.

“Based on customer feedback, we have reviewed our contingency measures and will continue to do so in order to minimise disruption to our customers in Fife.”

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird said the public had no confidence in train reliability and the case for nationalisation of the rail network was stronger than ever.

“The fact that one of the carriages was empty on Thursday morning and skipped stations is outrageous,” she said.

“People who rely on the rail network to get them to work on time and back to collect their children on time are being failed again and again, and to pay £2,000 a year for the privilege is a kick in the teeth.

“ScotRail claimed the practice was to prevent overcrowding.

“The same reason was given for the service skipping those same stations on five mornings in the previous three weeks – a regularity which, I think, throws considerable doubt on ScotRail’s claim that skipping happens to less than half of one per cent of all scheduled stops in Fife.

“Depressingly, passengers report similar shambles across Fife and it’s a shameful indictment of the state of our train services that some constituents have abandoned train travel altogether, stating it is an ‘impossible’ way to get to work on time.”

She added: “I’ll be writing to transport minister Humza Yousaf requesting he address constituents’ concerns, as a matter of urgency, and I’ll also be writing to Transport Scotland and Abellio.

“This is a key service for Fife and its commuters and, frankly, right now it is not delivering the service we need and certainly not the service we are paying over the odds for.”