ScotRail (Festive Season)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th December 2019.

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Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government what action ScotRail is taking to prepare for the festive season. (S5O-03869)

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

From 15 December, ScotRail will deliver approximately 10,000 more seats as it introduces its new timetable. ScotRail will also increase capacity in the lead-up to Christmas. On the pre-Christmas weekend, ScotRail will provide approximately 40,000 more seats compared to the same period last year. Over the five days between Christmas and new year, ScotRail will provide around 184,000 more seats compared to the same period last year.

The last trains of the day on Christmas eve and new year’s eve will depart earlier than normal and there will be changes to train timetables over the Christmas and new year period.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

I welcome the extra seats and carriages, but I have to express caution. Although morning peak services have been improved for commuters, there could be difficulties on evening peak services. Obviously, the festive period is a very busy time. Does the cabinet secretary have any comment on why the number of carriages on evening peak services has not been increased?

Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

The member is right to recognise that there is a significant increase in capacity, with an extra 1,500 seats per day being provided for passengers on the Borders route, through a combination of more services and longer trains. Some services that are presently three carriages are going up to six carriages, and the number of two-carriage services is reducing in favour of larger trains. Across the whole of the day, capacity will be increased.

I assure the member that ScotRail is seeking to make the greatest use of its existing rolling stock. The enhancements that it will provide in the Borders are to help at times when there are particular difficulties on the Borders route and in areas where the volume of passengers using the service at peak times is a challenge.

Clearly, as further timetable changes are taken forward over the course of 2020, there will be an opportunity to look at what further capacity can be added, not just in the Borders but in other parts of the network.