Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Gibson calls for drastic rail improvements for Highland users

News release
Immediate release

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has called for a full review of rail services in the Highlands so that lessons can be learned following the problems caused by the recent severe winter weather.

He has published a checklist for action by Network Rail, First Scotrail and East Coast trains. This includes:-

* The entire train should be warm, not just parts of them. Each service needs to overhaul the heating systems which fail far too often on all services. Scotrail pledges to pick units for the Far North line that have fully functioning heating.

* Scotrail must be able to provide hot drinks along the lines. Too often busy trains run out of hot water and sandwiches. They also need to replenishment at Perth and Aviemore on the Highland line.

* Network Rail needs to install sensors or webcams at sections of track prone to deep snow drifts. The well-known effects of drifting snow from varying points of the compass should be predictable. Also suitable snow blowers and snow ploughs are needed to keep the railways moving. Because harsh weather has reduced in recent years little attention has been given to dealing with deep snowfalls. 21st century systems are needed as more severe weather events can be expected as a result of climate change.

*East Coast trains should be able to turn round at Aviemore if the line to Inverness is blocked. It is unacceptable that services should be stopped at Perth.

*Far more accurate information is needed for passengers as they find onward journeys interrupted by trains in the 'wrong places' and no attempt to give the full picture to the paying customer.

Mr Gibson also stated that the rolling stock which serve the North needs drastic improvement….

"The railways of Scotland need action to learn lessons from this harsh winter. The three car sets which are actually commuter trains are not fully fit for over three hour journeys. The new franchise round must provide more acceptable rolling stock."

"Also Network Rail has to ensure faster running and anticipate severe weather problems with appropriate investment despite straitened budgets."

"The north of Scotland has every right to expect rail companies providers to go the extra mile to provide passengers with comfort, information and certainty as far as possible."


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