Punctuality improves as Scotland’s Railway prepares for autumn

Last updated: Monday, 27 September 2021

The punctuality of trains across Scotland’s Railway has improved for the third consecutive month, new figures published today, Monday 27 September, have confirmed.

Across Scotland, 92.2 per cent of ScotRail trains met the rail industry standard public performance measure (PPM) in the four-week period 22 August to 18 September 2021 – up 1.4 percentage points from the previous reporting period, and up 2.1 percentage points from the summer.

This means that the train operator’s Moving Annual Average (MAA) - which measures punctuality across a whole year – now stands at 93.3 per cent.

PPM is the UK-wide standard on which ScotRail is held to account by Transport Scotland, where trains must arrive at their destination within 4 minutes and 59 seconds of their timetabled arrival time, having called at all scheduled stations.

A massive 91 per cent reduction in weather related incidents in August and September contributed to ScotRail’s strong level of performance as the train operator and Network Rail begin to prepare for the challenges that the autumn weather brings.

Every autumn, trees drop thousands of tonnes of leaves onto railway infrastructure which can break down into a slippery surface and cause train wheels to lose grip – making it harder for them to stop quickly.

This can result in trains overshooting signals or platforms and affect signalling systems – making it harder to track where trains are on the network.

To help combat this, Network Rail has deployed a fleet of specialist rail-head treatment trains using high-pressure water jets to clean tracks before coating them with a special adhesive, while engineers work in depots to keep train wheels clean and free of leaf debris.

David Simpson, ScotRail Operations Director, said:

“It’s fantastic to see that the punctuality and reliability of trains across Scotland’s Railway has improved for the third consecutive month.

“Our focus now needs to be on maintaining and increasing this strong level of performance across our network throughout the challenging months ahead.

“Each autumn, the weather creates challenging and difficult conditions across Scotland’s Railway as leaves fall on the line and make the rails dangerously slippy, and this year is no different.

“That’s why, along with our colleagues at Network Rail Scotland, we’re working flat out to keep rails and train wheels clean to help minimise the impact the autumn weather has on our customers’ journeys.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to quickly address any problems that arise, to take preventative action wherever possible, and make sure that our customers are given good quality information.”