ScotRail is let by Transport Scotland and operates intercity, regional and suburban rail services across the Scottish national rail network. Abellio began operating Scotland’s national railways from 1st April 2015 which will end in 2025 unless Transport Scotland elect to exercise a break clause to end the contract in 2022.
ScotRail is operated under the Alliance Agreement with the infrastructure provider – Network Rail – with the aim to maintain the infrastructure and deliver train services for the passengers in an optimal way. The Alliance has been able to achieve its main objectives to only a limited extent.
The initial results of major changes in infrastructure, renewal and extension of train fleet that allow major upgrades to rolling stock delivering passenger capacity and increased comfort in Scotland were visible in 2018. ScotRail is making a once in a generation investment in 70 modern electric Hitachi class 385 trains that are faster, longer, and greener. During 2019 ScotRail will bring refurbished High Speed Trains into service to improve connectivity between Scotland’s 7 cities. The first Hitachi 385s began operating in July 2018 and the first of 26 High Speed Trains, refurbished by Wabtec, entered into service in October 2018.
Following the December 2018 timetable changes in Scotland – the biggest changes since the 1990s – there was extensive media coverage of cancellations and delays in the first weeks. The franchise was challenged by serious delays in the completion of electrification projects by Network Rail and delays in the delivery of new and refurbished trains. As a result, training and new rostering arrangements of train crew were compromised in the run up to the new timetable launch because this had to be achieved in a very short period of time mainly due to the aforementioned delays. Due to the dedication of the ScotRail employees these performance issues have been remedied in the meantime.
Over the next 18 months all major service changes to the timetable and the new and refurbished fleet will be in place leaving only the Queen St Station rebuild in Glasgow to complete in 2020. Queen St Station is the Glasgow terminal station of the busy Edinburgh-Glasgow line. The associated journey flows account for circa 30% of ScotRail’s annual revenues. In 2016 the station was closed for a period of 20 weeks reducing passenger numbers, which also still has an adverse impact on passenger growth compared to the remainder of the network. This had a negative impact on the total realised revenue of ScotRail.





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  • * Comparative figures have been adjusted for change in accounting principle regarding railway pension schemes.