South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has called on rail bosses from Transpennine Express to come to Lockerbie to listen to commuters concerns – dismissing proposals by the rail firm to give season ticket holders a small rebate as a “gimmick”.
The comments come as recent figures reveal that Lockerbie Station remains the WORST station in Scotland for performance as a result of the failing Transpennine Express service- and one of the worst in the whole of the UK with a ranking of 2,619 out of 2,623, according to www.ontimetrains.co.uk.
Their analysis showed that most services from Lockerbie are still more likely to be cancelled than run on time. Of the 3,030 services from the station in the last twelve weeks, only 10% ran to schedule and 14% were cancelled altogether.
Despite the poor performance, hard-pressed rail passengers using Transpennine Express services from Lockerbie railway station were hit by a 37% hike in price from 2 January for a peak day return to Edinburgh- when fares rose from £20 to £27.50. Even the off-peak day return from Lockerbie to the capital, which isn’t available until the 12.25 pm train to Edinburgh following the companies decision to axe the 10.32 am service, will rise by 5% to £21 for a day return.
However, Transpennine Express have said that the only new compensation from the failing franchise will go to the small number of local passengers who buy a season ticket when the company announced on Monday that that customers who held a season ticket between 1 October and 31 December 2019 “will be eligible for a 3% rebate”- just enough to cancel out the fare increase they faced on 2 January when the cost of an annual season ticket between Lockerbie and Edinburgh rose to a massive £4400 per annum. It comes on the back of the recent revelation that the Chief Executive of Transpennine Express, Leo Goodwin, had received a 44% pay rise, taking his salary up to £331,000 per year.
Colin Smyth said, “There is still little sign of hard-pressed passengers using Lockerbie station receiving a service that is fit for purpose from failing Transpennine Express as cancellations and delays continue. It’s also important to remember that poor service is not new from this company when it comes to Lockerbie, added to recently by the shameful decision to axe the 10.32 am service to Edinburgh with passengers now facing a four hour wait for the next train if the 8.35 am train is cancelled”.
“The proposal for a small rebate for season ticket users in response to the shocking level of service is nothing more than a gimmick and small crumbs for the handful of people who have an annual pass who pay thousands of pounds a year to the company. It also gives nothing to the vast majority of passengers who either can’t afford a season ticket or for whom it isn’t cost effective because they may not need to travel everyday but have had to face rail fare rises of 37%. They are not receiving any new compensation for being let down so badly by the rail firm yet the company’s Chief Executive is rewarded for failure with a pay rise worth more than the annual salary of most of people using Transpennine Express trains ”.
“In the absence of any action from the UK Government who awarded this franchise but who aren’t doing enough to hold the rail company to account, it is time rail bosses from Transpennine Express came to Lockerbie and listened to the concerns commuters have. I have issued an invitation to them and all the key transport stakeholders to come to Lockerbie for a rail summit to thrash out the issue of poor performance, high fares, insufficient parking and poor bus links and I fully expect the company to take up the offer and be held to account.”