OVERCROWDED and cancelled trains on the Fife Circle are still causing anger and frustration but railway improvements are coming down the track.

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing was told that it's a "priority issue" for the Scottish Government and that part of the blame for the problems were down to the "previous franchisee", Abellio.

In the Scottish Parliament she quizzed the cabinet secretary for transport, Fiona Hyslop, on when passengers in Fife could expect a better service.

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The minister responded: "Improving services for Fife communities is a priority issue for me and my officials at Transport Scotland, and I am pleased that there has been a reduction in the number of short-form services in Fife.

"However, although that is welcome, further work is required."

Dunfermline Press: Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing.Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing. (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Hyslop said Scotrail have been told that improvements to rolling stock maintenance are needed to "make more trains available for service each day" and added that a "range of work is underway to improve services in Fife".

Ms Ewing said that was "welcome news" and asked: "What my constituents want to know is: when will the improvement plan be implemented and will it address directly the long-standing problems with overcrowding and cancelled trains?"

The cabinet secretary responded: "Overcrowding on Fife services is due to the short-forming of trains that serve the route, and that is caused by poor diesel fleet reliability.

"That is a legacy issue, caused in part by the poor staffing and fleet choices that were made by the previous franchisee.

"My officials have required Scotrail to develop an improvement plan, which is currently underway and covers issues such as fleet availability and a monitoring system.

"Now that the plan is in place, it is proving useful in directing improvement action.

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"There is a recruitment campaign, and that and related management action should deliver material improvements in the availability of maintenance staff in a matter of months.

"A number of fleet improvement investments are also being identified, which should deliver further improvements over the next two to three years."

Ms Hyslop concluded that some of the actions were "more immediate" and passengers should soon see a better service.

Afterwards Ms Ewing was pleased that improving services was a "priority issue" but said Fifers will want clear answers on when the improvement plan will be implemented and if it will actually deliver.

The MSP added: “I certainly look forward to seeing the more immediate actions to which the cabinet secretary referred coming into being, and I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that my constituents get the rail service they are entitled to expect.”