PASSENGER numbers on West Fife trains were down significantly last year, according to new data.

Figures published by the Office for Road and Rail showed there were more than 3,038,214 entries and exits from stations in 2018/19 but this was 124,097 less than the previous year.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell blamed the falling numbers on "poor service" and said they needed to be a wake-up call for the Scottish Government and ScotRail.

The figures are annual estimates of station usage but point to the growing trend that numbers are down at every station in the area.

Perhaps the most disgruntled of passengers are those who commute from Dunfermline Town with 45,388 fewer journeys in 2018/19 compared to the previous year. That's a fall of 6.5 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, Inverkeithing's the busiest station in Fife with 1,235,204 estimated journeys made last year but numbers were down by 27,606.

The biggest percentage change is seen at Rosyth station – there were 36,688 less journeys made – that's a massive 11 per cent decrease.

Across the whole of Fife, more than six million journeys were made in 2018/19 and numbers were down by a total of 133,950, with West Fifers accounting for the majority to have walked away from the trains.

Mr Ruskell has also called on the Transport Secretary to end overcrowding on Fife’s railway following the news and has written to Michael Matheson asking why we're STILL waiting for extra rolling stock at peak times.

"Given the poor service Fife commuters have had over the last couple of years, it’s no wonder people are choosing less and less to use the railway," he said.

"These figures need to be a wake-up call for the Scottish Government and ScotRail – people in Fife won’t put up with a substandard service indefinitely.

"The issue of capacity is one that should have been addressed already.

"We were promised extra carriages for peak time services several years ago now but the timescale for this has continued to slip.

"Ensuring people have a seat on peak-time trains would be the first step to getting commuters back on the railway, and this now needs to be an urgent priority for Fife.

"In the longer term, bringing Scotland’s railway back into public ownership once the current Abelio contract is finished is the best way to ensure we can deliver a reliable, affordable service that is the first choice for Fife’s commuters."

Low figures come on the same week that Transport Scotland said the Queensferry Crossing has "more traffic than the bridge can cope with" at peak times (see story above).

ScotRail continue to insist that suppliers have let them down with the delivery of InterCity trains and until they receive full delivery of these trains customers in Fife won’t feel the full benefit of the redistribution of their Class 170 fleet.

A ScotRail spokesperson said: "We want to encourage as many people as possible to travel by train, and to make their journey a seamless one.

"The unprecedented recent investment to modernise Scotland’s Railway – £475 million in brand new electric trains, upgraded trains, and in high-speed Inter7City trains connecting Scotland's seven cities, in Smart ticketing, in new ticket machines, and in station improvements – is delivering more seats and better services for our customers across the country."

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We have taken firm action and are seeing performance improvements with over 25,000 more seats per four-week period for Fife’s rail passengers in the last year. Rolling stock issues too are well rehearsed and ministers continue to press high speed train supplier Wabtec to complete their refurbishment programme which will unlock further capacity improvements in Fife.

“ScotRail have also been challenged to look at options to maximise use of diesel trains to provide robust capacity for passengers, and from May 2020 more rolling stock will be cascaded to Fife services.

“We continue to closely monitor ScotRail’s performance via the remedial agreement, which contains initiatives that address performance specifically in Fife as well as across the whole franchise – and ScotRail’s overall performance has been improving.”