Scottish Government to hold talks over ScotRail performance

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said talks will be held with ScotRail over falling performance levels and the practice of emptying train toilets onto tracks.

Responding to Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said the operator must address their failure to meet targets.

An official report published by the company showed 81.8% of services were on time between September 16 and October 13.

The First Minister said Transport Secretary Michael Matheson will meet with Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy and ScotRail Alliance boss Alex Hynes next week.

She added Mr Matheson would be making it clear that performance levels must improve “effectively and swiftly to the standards expected by passengers”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We continue to impress upon senior management of Network Rail the need for a renewed focus on maintaining the network infrastructure in Scotland and that will help ScotRail meet its challenging but achievable targets.

“This process would be helped by the full devolution of Network Rail, a move that would allow the appropriate parliamentary oversight to be put on the whole of the rail infrastructure in Scotland, rather than just on part of it.

Ms Sturgeon also responded to concerns raised by the railway union RMT that ScotRail engaged in breaking an agreement not to dump human waste on Scotland’s railways.

She said: “It is not a practice that we support and ScotRail have also said that it is one that they want to see continue.

“It’s an interim measure, it is regrettable and ScotRail are working to mitigate the issue as soon as possible.

“The Scottish Government has directly funded previous installation programs to eradicate that practice across ScotRail fleets.”

ScotRail announced it would introduce a fleet of 26 refurbished high-speed trains, however there have been several delays.

A number of unrefurbished models – which empty waste onto the tracks – will prevent gaps in services.

Transport Scotland say all tanks will fitted by next year.

The First Minister also called for the devolution of Network Rail in order to address challenges around rail infrastructure impacting the performance.

Ms Sturgeon said: “It will be necessary to introduce some unrefurbished high-speed trains into the service for an interim period, but it is important that ScotRail works to resolve that as quickly as possible.”

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