Published: 09/08/2017 11:00 - Updated: 08/08/2017 15:17

Train travel on the wrong tracks again as city service slated

 

Inverness train station
Rail services for the Highlands have been criticised again after recent cancellations.

AN MSP has blasted the city’s rail service and demanded vast improvements.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant hit out after more complaints were passed to her when a train to Ardgay was cancelled three days on the trot.

She said: "It is a terrible service on the Far North line

"Abellio/Scotrail needs to look again at its contingency measures after admitting that a train service on the Far North Line was cancelled on July 10th, 11 and 12.

"I find it hard to agree with the train company when it said it maintained trains to a very high standard after the 17.12 Inverness to Ardgay service was cancelled on the three consecutive days.

"And a constituent contacted me to complain about the poor service."

ScotRail told the MSP that the Monday, July 10 train was cancelled due to a transmission fault and, despite the best efforts of its maintenance team at Inverness, it was taken out of service

Then on Tuesday, July  11 it was cancelled due to poor performance of the train scheduled to work that service

And on July 12 it was cancelled again due to the shortage of trains at Inverness due to an earlier train failure at Wick. Replacement transport was provided on all three days.

The city has been plagued with late arriving trains and last month the Virgin Highland Chieftain failed to leave for London because there was insufficient staff and the firm put on buses for passengers to reach Edinburgh and connecting services.

And a survey also revealed that almost half of trains to Inverness arrived late.

Mrs Grant said: "I realise that faults do happen from time to time, but it’s hard not to conclude that there’s something amiss when it happens three days in a row.

"Train failures are surely not unrelated to maintenance standards? One wonders if there is an over-provision of spares being kept in the south to the detriment of services in the north?

"There are fewer trains on this line to start with so any cancellation is more disruptive to passengers than in an area where there are more frequent services.

"Again Abellio/Scotrail needs to do better to keep and attract more passengers."

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said the firm was investing £30 million to increase the reliability of track and signalling along the Far North Line, in addition to the ongoing refurbishment of 25 trains.

Meanwhile, Mrs Grant has probed Highland Council about the Postbus route which ends on August 19.

The 134 Postbus runs from Tongue to Lairg but Royal Mail is withdrawing the service.

Council chief executive Steve Barron said it is looking to replace the service and will  consult with local councillors and the community to see what’s needed.

Mrs Grant said: "It’s sad to see the end of the era, especially in such a remote rural area of the Highlands."

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