Published: 26th October 2015
Significant new timetable changes have been announced by ScotRail to take effect from 13 December 2015 include alterations in south-west Scotland, Lanarkshire and the West Highland Lines.
Some new services will be added, some trains will have new calls and in other cases the changes will be designed to improve connections. Passengers will need to check their train times carefully as there will be a range of alterations.
Derek Mackay MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Transport and Islands, said that rail travel in Scotland is more popular than ever with 90 million journeys being made every year. He added that train services must meet the needs of the communities they serve, providing “reliable and timely connections”.
“These new timetables are good news for rail passengers in Stranraer, Lanark and Carstairs who will be able to enjoy more frequent services from December,” Mr Mackay said.
Record amounts of investment in Scotland’s railways ensured that more people could access trains. The Minister added that the Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland routinely works in consultation with local communities to make sure that rail services provide maximum benefit for passengers.
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “This is the first set of timetable changes since we took over the franchise. We’ve worked hard to make sure we’re making the best use of our rolling stock so that, wherever possible, the busiest services have the most capacity.”
Services in the south-west would be completely overhauled to allow more opportunity for local travel between Ayr and Stranraer. Late-night station calls in South Lanarkshire would help people in Lanark and Carstairs to get home.
More Sunday trains will run in winter in the West Highlands and there is also an early morning weekday revision to provide Dunblane with a ScotRail connection into the additional Virgin Trains East Coast high-speed train from Stirling to London King’s Cross, ScotRail has confirmed.
Mondays to Saturdays, a new hourly Ayr-Girvan train will run, with every second train extended to Stranraer to provide 12 trains a day to Girvan instead of ten and eight to Stranraer instead of six. Additional trains will also run six days a week between Ayr and Kilmarnock.
Another change to note on this route is that trains between Ayr and Glasgow Central via Kilmarnock will no longer call at Prestwick International Airport and Prestwick Town but there will be connections at Troon.
On Sundays, when passengers from Stranraer and Girvan to Glasgow need to change trains at Ayr, there will be two additional trains between Ayr and Stranraer.
On Sundays, the 09:56 from Glasgow Queen Street to Oban and the 16:11 Oban to Glasgow Queen Street will become year-round trains instead of operating only in the summer months.
On Mondays to Fridays inclusive the 23:20 Glasgow Central to Motherwell will be extended to Lanark and the 22:31 Dalmuir to Motherwell will be extended to Carstairs.
The Mondays to Fridays 05:21 from Dunblane to Edinburgh will be retimed to depart Dunblane at 05:13 to provide a connection into the new Virgin Trains East Coast service to London King’s Cross leaving Stirling at 05:26.
The newly re-opened Borders Line has carried far more passengers than envisaged and the success story has brought a few train cancellations because of too many passengers! Trains became overcrowded on 15 October 2015 when two services were cancelled and ScotRail had to apologise to passengers transferred onto buses. The October holidays have seen a never ending stream of passengers and the line hailed a "soaraway success", after more than 125,000 journeys were made during its first month.
ScotRail have laid on extra carriages in the school holidays "where possible". Why did the extra passengers lead to cancellations? Because the timetable does not allow for station delays in boarding and alighting and as timings are tight on the new line because the double track section was scaled back to save money, services have become disrupted.
Scotrail said that; “As a result of large passenger numbers, some trains were delayed and this unfortunately led to the cancellation of two services.
"Bus replacements were sourced and called at all stations, and our ticket acceptance arrangement with Lothian Buses was in place.
We're really sorry for the inconvenience this has caused our passengers, and thank them for their patience as we worked to get services back to normal." It’s a success story with a twist!
On September 19th, the 1414hrs Reading to London Paddington First Great Western train was cancelled “because of an unusually large passenger flow”. This may have been dangerously overcrowded because other trains were cancelled from Reading at that time.