A DISGRUNTLED MSP has slammed the Minister of Transport for failing to deal with overcrowded trains after he boarded a packed service from Inverkeithing to Edinburgh. 

Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife has said the SNP are trotting out the “same, tired old excuses” on overcrowded trains which will not satisfy fed-up rail commuters in Fife who are receiving a “shoddy” service.

Mr Fraser had written to the Minister to ask why a peak time train travelling from Inverkeithing to Edinburgh, which he recently boarded, only had two carriages when ScotRail had previously promised the problem of overcrowded Fife trains would be improved by May, with the plan to “improve capacity” and thus “substantially” reduce the use of "short trains".

He said: "In the response from the Minister for Transport, she concedes that there have been recent issues with the availability of diesel trains resulting in some services running on fewer carriages than planned, leading to crowding on some routes.

"However, that won’t be of any solace to many rail commuters who have received a shoddy rail service for years, with overcrowded trains, and trains that are either delayed or don’t stop at the likes of Inverkeithing." 

In her reply to Mr Fraser’s letter on the overcrowded Fife train, Ms Hyslop stated that the matter was “an important issue” and added it was one that both she and Transport Scotland officials were keen to see resolved as soon as possible.

Mr Fraser continued: “The Minister goes on to say that there is an investment of £116 million in rail services in Fife, with the introduction of a new line to Levenmouth along with the promise of an additional service running in Fife, which she claims will ease the capacity issues on existing services.

"However, I attended a meeting in March when myself and fellow MSPs were promised that the problem of overcrowding on trains in Fife would be improved by May this year, which obviously hasn’t happened. Instead, we have an SNP Minister trotting out the same, tired old excuses.

“I welcome the announcement from ScotRail earlier this week that they are rolling out a six-month pilot of reducing the price of peak-time rail fares but this won’t bring much comfort to Fife rail commuters who could face overcrowded trains or miss boarding a train as its too busy.

"The overcrowding rail problem caused by short trains has been going on for far too long – Fife rail commuters need decisive action taken to resolve this, not promises.”

READ MORE: ScotRail to drop train prices between Fife and Edinburgh

A Transport Scotland spokesperson commented: “The performance of ScotRail’s diesel fleet and legacy issues around fleet choices by previous franchisees are recognised by ScotRail Trains Ltd as a concern. 

"Transport Scotland officials work closely with Scottish Rail Holdings and ScotRail Trains Ltd to ensure that train performance on the Fife Circle meets the targets set out in the Grant Agreement.

“To this end, the industry has worked to identify and address factors which affect train performance, via the development of a Performance Improvement Plan. 

"ScotRail has already implemented a number of the initiatives identified and will continue to closely monitor performance to ensure that services in Fife run with sufficient carriages.”

ScotRail have confirmed that they have put changes in place in order to strengthen their services. 

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, added: “We know that what our customers want above all is a reliable and efficient service.

"Since March, we have made a number of changes to improve our performance in Fife, including at our maintenance depots where we’ve increased staffing levels and built an in-house repair workshop to improve the availability of our diesel trains.

“This has resulted in more trains running with the planned number of carriages, and more trains arriving on time. We know there’s more work to do, and we’ll continue to work to deliver the level of service our customers expect and deserve.

“Looking forward, we’re taking the steps required to introduce a new timetable for Fife, and the Tay Cities, in 2025. An interim timetable will be introduced in late spring/early summer 2024 which will deliver many of its benefits.

“Our public consultation on these timetables is open until October 23, and we encourage anyone with an interest in this matter to respond to the survey. All views will be carefully considered and we’ll look at what changes can be made in response to them.”

More information on ScotRail's Fife and the Tay Cities Timetable Consultation can be found here