NICOLA STURGEON has been urged to “step in and take control” of the chaos on the Fife Circle by Green MSP Mark Ruskell. 

The Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions last Thursday along with a string of other MSPs angry about ScotRail’s rotten performance. 

He reminded Nicola Sturgeon that former transport minister Humza Yousaf had promised to have additional rolling stock for the Fife Circle “later in 2018 or early 2019” in January LAST YEAR. 

However, ScotRail revealed recently that new rolling stock now won’t now be delivered on peak time Fife trains until the end of 2019.

Mr Ruskell said: “Commuters on the Fife Circle have reported increased overcrowding, broken-down trains and cancellations due to staff shortages in recent weeks, as reported in the ongoing Crush Hour campaign by the Dunfermline Press.” 

Speaking at FMQs, Mr Ruskell added: “I’ve been raising questions about the Fife Circle for over two years now, and I’m fed up of hearing the same response from the Transport Minister and ScotRail. 

“The date for new rolling stock keeps slipping from month to month, despite the former transport minister saying people in Fife should not have to wait for that to get an improvement in their service.

“I’m losing faith in the ability of the Transport Secretary and ScotRail executives to deal with this crisis and deliver the service Fife commuters expect – and pay for. 

“It’s time for some real leadership, and the First Minister needs to step in and take control.” 

Responding to Mr Ruskell’s question in the chamber, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Those who are charged with the responsibility for running our railway service are the ones that have to get it right. 

“They have a responsibility to do so, and they have a responsibility to begin delivering the improvements passengers want to see immediately, and that is what the remedial plan will very much focus on.”

Annabelle Ewing, MSP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said her constituents were “absolutely fed up” with the Fife Circle service. 

She said: “Has the cabinet secretary received any up-to-date information from ScotRail—which is responsible for the mess—that would indicate that there is any light at the end of the tunnel?”

Transport Minister Michael Matheson said he understood the frustration of Ms Ewing’s constituents. 

He added: “We are now at the advanced stage of entering into that remedial agreement with ScotRail to ensure that it is effectively implemented and addresses the concerns of her constituents. We will announce more details of that in the coming days.” 

The Scottish Government issued ScotRail with a second “remedial plan notice” last month after it missed its passenger satisfaction targets because of delays and cancellations.

Nicola Sturgeon said Dutch-owned Abellio, which has held the 10-year franchise to run most of Scotland’s trains since 2015, could be stripped of the contract if it fails to improve.

The First Minister said: “ScotRail should treat the remedial plan very much as the last chance saloon. That is the nature of it. 

“ScotRail has been left in no doubt that its recent performance levels, particularly in the Borders and Fife, have been completely unacceptable.

“Of course, if ScotRail does not achieve improved performance, or if it fails to deliver on its contractual commitments, it runs the risk of its franchise being terminated early.”

Meanwhile, a petition started by Lesley Laird MP demanding cheaper rail fares in Fife has reached just under 900 signatures. 

Ms Laird said: “Signatures gathered so far evidence the strength of feeling in the community on this issue.

“Commuters are absolutely sick to the back teeth trying – and failing – to juggle job and family commitments because they can’t rely on ScotRail trains. 

“If the Scottish Government firmly believes ScotRail can make good on its pledge to fix Fife’s services ‘by the end of 2019’, they should be prepared to make reasonable concessions until then.

“Fife passengers feel they’re being treated with utter contempt.”

Sign the petition at