SCOTRAIL’S performance has fallen to a three-year low, sparking renewed calls for the railways to be taken back into public hands.

Official statistics show Dutch-owned operator Abellio, which took over in 2015, has seen the punctuality and reliability of its trains deteriorate.

Its Public Performance Measure (PPM) – which records services arriving within five minutes of their scheduled time – has sunk to 88.2 per cent nationally, below the target of 92.13 per cent.

Trains in Fife are even worse with PPM sitting at 85.3 per cent for trains that terminate at Glenrothes via the Dunfermline line and 84.4 per cent for Kirkcaldy trains that service the Dalgety Bay line. 

Lesley Laird MP said: “How much further do performance figures have to deteriorate before the Scottish Government will consider taking decisive action?

“Well, based on this miserable record of performance and the decision not to stop the contract, the public are now tied in to this until the contract ends in 2025.

“Weary passengers have heard countless apologies from Scotrail and assurances that improvement plans would bring about better services but bald figures don’t lie: national performance statistics are at an all-time low. Here in Fife, they’re even lower.

“Former transport Minister Humza Yousaf previously admitted standards weren’t up to scratch but continually shied away from saying he would consider using a break clause in Abellio’s contract in 2020.

“His successor, Michael Matheson, has shown no leadership on this and so this shoddy over-priced service will continue.”

The Press has been highlighting overcrowded and unreliable ScotRail services on the Fife Circle since we launched our 'Crush Hour' in November to highlight delays, cancellations and stop-skipping.

It appears the warmer weather hasn't helped performance either; it's the third period in a row that the figures have been a record low for Abellio, with opposition parties piling pressure on new SNP Transport Secretary Michael Matheson.

Ms Laird added: "It’s clearer than ever that nationalisation of our railways is the only means to deliver a service we can all be proud of."

Abellio took over the ScotRail franchise in 2015 but Scottish ministers are now putting together a public sector bid for the railways.

A ScotRail spokesman said they were aware performance needed to be better and shared the frustration of customers when things didn’t go to plan.

He said: “The investment we are making in new and upgraded trains, and our recruitment drive to increase the number of people working on our frontline, will help us significantly in enhancing the day-to-day running of services.

“We are building the best railway Scotland has ever had and service performance is a huge part of this delivery. Everyone at ScotRail is working together to deliver these improvements.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “As has been stated on many previous occasions, ministers expect the ScotRail Alliance to work closely together to build on lessons learned going forward.

“We have already secured the right for a public sector operator to bid for a rail franchise in Scotland – after being denied by previous UK Governments – which will enable a level playing field between the private and public sector in bidding for rail franchises for the benefit of passengers and best value for the public purse.

“We should not lose sight of the transformational process under way on our railways including the infrastructure enhancements, as well as the introduction of new and fully-refurbished rolling stock with the additional services that they will provide.

“In recent years, 160 extra carriages were added to ScotRail’s fleet with an extra 200 to follow in the next 12 months giving a 50 per cent increase in carriages since 2007.”