SCOTRAIL have been asked to respond to safety concerns on overcrowded services. 

MSP Annabelle Ewing demanded a “full and prompt” response by train operator boss Alex Hynes over revelations that one morning last week a train operated with one carriage shut off and two other peak-time services had been cancelled. 

She pressed ScotRail for answers over what assessments were made for the safety of packed trains. 
Ms Ewing, MSP for Cowdenbeath, said: “Problems on the Fife Circle continue to be brought to my attention and I have written to Alex Hynes today to express my concern.

“This morning (Wednesday), alone, the 7.06 Dalgety Bay to Edinburgh train this morning was operating with one carriage closed off, while two other peak-time trains on the Fife Circle were cancelled.

“The closed carriage was apparently because of a problem with the toilet stemming from the previous evening and from the pictures I have seen, this train was dangerously overcrowded at worst and extremely unpleasant at best.

“I want to know from Mr Hynes why this was the case and what alternatives, if any, ScotRail were able to offer to its long-suffering passengers?

“ScotRail actually tweeted this morning to say they would not run trains if it was not safe to do so. So what assessment was made about the safety of this train, who carried out the assessment and when was the assessment made?

“My constituency and other commuters on the Fife Circle deserve full and prompt responses to these questions.”

ScotRail explained that one carriage on the 7.06 service from Dalgety Bay had to be blocked out of use due to a leak developing in the toilet and that the alternative would have been to cancel the service completely.

They added the cancellations were as a result of challenges faced following the late delivery of new Class 385 and upgraded high-speed InterCity trains, industrial action, and the impact that this then had on their ability to train enough drivers and conductors on the new trains.

The Press has also received a barrage of correspondence from readers to say services had been cancelled or passengers were simply left on the platform when trying to board overcrowded trains. 
Following a meeting with Mr Hynes, Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman challenged train bosses to make Fife proud of the service they run. 

He said: “ScotRail has faced the perfect storm of challenges over the past year which has impacted negatively on customer service and in Fife we have borne the brunt of delays, cancellations and poor service.

“During my discussions, it was made clear to ScotRail that they should be pushing on with releasing diesel trains from other parts of the country as the new electric trains come on stream.

“There are also the refurbished and spacious inter-city class trains which are being introduced and again they could be used to enhance the service through Fife at East Coast mainline stations such as Inverkeithing. 

“There is a £2 billion rail investment being made in Scotland and it’s time we saw some of the direct benefits in Fife.

“It’s clear that in Fife, ScotRail are nowhere near what would be an acceptable level of service, but there are signs of improvement. 

“Whether as an occasional passenger or everyday commuter, we all want to get to the stage where we’re proud of our rail service in Scotland.

“I have asked Alex Hynes to report back more regularly on ScotRail’s performance to passengers including core information about delays, cancellations, skipped stations, and the number of carriages on Fife services to alleviate overcrowding, but also on how many new trains are being introduced month on month and how much pressure is being put on those responsible for the delivery of the refurbished inter-city trains.”

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to customers who experienced disruption to their journey. It has been a challenging time for Scotland’s railway recently but things are improving.

“More trains are arriving on time than ever before, and everyone at the ScotRail Alliance is working flat out to provide customers with the service they deserve.”