Passengers taking ill and fainting on overcrowded trains, MSPs told

A pregnant woman took ill and two people fainted on overcrowded ScotRail services, MSPs have heard.

The SNP’s Christine Grahame raised the problems, which occurred on Thursday morning, during First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament.

She criticised ScotRail Alliance boss Alex Hynes over his claims passengers were already experiencing improved services after a remedial agreement was signed with the Scottish Government.

The Government has issued two remedial notices to ScotRail since December requiring the operator to submit a plan on how it will address performance issues, including delays and cancellations.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said improvements have been “patchy” and she would impress on Mr Hynes the importance of providing a safe, reliable, comfortable service.

Ms Grahame, who represents Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, said: “It gives me no pleasure to raise yet again failures on the Borders railway.

“However, just today there were two peak-time cancellations and as a result of overcrowding on later trains two people fainted – one even requiring medical assistance – and there was also a pregnant woman made ill.

“Does the First Minister agree with me that for Alex Hynes to claim at committee last week customers are already benefiting from improved service delivery, that he needs to get out and about on the Borders trains to hear what my constituents think of his improvements?”

Christine Grahame MSP
Christine Grahame MSP raised concerns about ScotRail overcrowding (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

Ms Sturgeon said: “I completely agree that this level of discomfort and inconvenience for passengers as a result of overcrowding in no way reflects the service level for which this Government, and indeed Scottish taxpayers of course, are paying.

“I’ve been informed that the cancellations today are a consequence of a train that failed early this morning but I will certainly reinforce to Mr Hynes and his colleagues the critical nature of providing a service that passengers can rely on and feel safe and comfortable to use.

“Improvements across ScotRail’s services have been patchy, with passengers in the east of the country continuing to be let down by ScotRail.”

She said Transport Minister Michael Matheson met with senior officials from Abellio, the Dutch firm behind the ScotRail franchise, to reinforce the “absolute requirement for improvement”.

Ms Sturgeon added the railway operator must meet the commitments in the performance remedial plan.

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