South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has called for First Group to be stripped of the franchise to run Transpennine Express rail services after accusing the company of hitting “an all-time low” in customer service.
The comments come at a time:
- the company confirmed the current busy 10.32 am service from Lockerbie to Edinburgh will be AXED for the next five months- despite the train from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh still passing through Lockerbie station.
- services from Lockerbie and the capital suffered some of lowest levels of performance since the franchise began with 16.5% of trains to Scotland cancelled or significantly late and just 26% arriving at their final destination on time.
- passengers with mobility scooters have been told they will need to apply for a pass to take their scooter on new trains on a journey by journey basis for the foreseeable future rather than be able to apply for the current annual pass
- passenger seat reservations have also been put on hold on services for the foreseeable future as the company change rolling stock on services.
- fares will rise yet again next month by 2.8%
Colin Smyth said, “Once again passengers using Lockerbie are being treated to a second class service with trains now routinely late or cancelled. Those that do run are overcrowded, a problem that will get worse when the popular 10.32 am is axed for the next five months. What is infuriating local people is the fact the train will still pass through the station, but such is the contempt for passengers from Lockerbie it just won’t stop”.
“Despite growing overcrowding, passengers can’t book a seat on the trains that do run and if they are disabled they won’t be able to take their mobility scooter on board without booking well in advance and be subject to a risk assessment. To add insult to injury passengers will be hit hard in the pocket with yet another fare hike next month”.
“Enough is enough. It’s time the UK Government stood up for passengers for once instead of the big rail firms. Instead of First Group axing services the Government should axe First Group and remove the Transpennine Express franchise from them”.