Challenging start to winter - but ScotRail on top

Thursday, 21 December 2017

ScotRail remains the best performing large operator in Britain, despite a challenging start to winter.

​Figures published by ScotRail show that the company’s moving annual average – the average performance for the 12 months to 9 December 2017 – stands at 90.8 per cent. This means that 90.8 per cent of trains arrived at least within five minutes of their scheduled time, having stopped at all scheduled stations. This compares favourably with ScotRail’s moving annual average this time last year of 89.8 per cent.

The current annual average figure for England and Wales is 88.4 per cent.

Key incidents that caused disruption included:

  • Storm Caroline, which resulted in major disruption to services
  • Further impacts from low rail adhesion (e.g. slippery rails caused by the weather) at Dalmuir on 6 December 2017
  • Infrastructure issues including: (a) a points failure at Finnieston East Junction on 29 November 2017; and (b) an overhead line failure at Mossend on 25 November 2017

For the four weeks to 9 December 2017, 83.3 per cent of trains arrived at least within five minutes of their scheduled time, having stopped at all stations.

Winter weather can impact the railway in the following ways:

  • High winds can blow objects on to the line, meaning trains have to travel slower to ensure they can safely stop short of any obstructions.
  • Points (movable sections of track, allowing trains to move from one line to another) can freeze up, preventing trains from accessing certain routes or platforms.
  • Extremely low temperatures can sometimes prevent train carriages from attaching, leading to fewer carriages on services.
  • Up to three tons of snow can accumulate on the underside of trains. In the past trains have been damaged by snow and ice falling from the undercarriage and bouncing back up. Trains have to be removed from service for safety checks when this happens.
  • Heavy rain can cause flooding and landslips. When these occur, trains have to be stopped until the line has been cleared, and a thorough safety inspection of the track carried out.

The ScotRail Alliance recently announced the action it is taking to keep people moving when the worst of the winter weather strikes.

Perry Ramsey, ScotRail Alliance operations director, said:

“There’s no doubt that it has been a challenging few weeks. The autumn and winter seasons always throw up difficulties for the railway, and this year has been no different.

“Our people work flat out to keep customers moving all year round, but Storm Caroline in particular caused major disruption to our services. We followed the weather advice of the experts at the Met Office, and prioritised the safety of our staff and customers. Disrupting services isn’t a decision we take lightly, but safety must always come first.

“We are investing heavily to keep people moving during the winter, including snow ploughs, a £1million winter train to defrost the railway, and a helicopter fitted with thermal imaging equipment to identify potential problem areas.

“We are doing everything we can to build the best railway Scotland has ever had, and that applies all year round.”

Further details on the action being taken to keep people moving during the winter can be found here: http://bit.ly/2BGnHo9