ScotRail Fife – Letter from Michael Matheson MSP, Transport Minister to Annabelle Ewing MSP

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Scotrail train at Dalgety Bay

Open Letter Contents below…

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, infrastructure and Connectivity                       

Scottish Government

Michael Matheson MSP
t: 0300 244 4000

Annabelle Ewing MSP

The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

Our ref: 201910030381

30th October 2019

Dear Annabelle


Thank you for your email of 11 October 2019 on behalf of your constituent. My reply will address each of the issues raised in turn.


Following a period of continued poor performance across the rail network. I am pleased to advise that improvements have been seen over recent months. This is clear evidence that the  Scottish Government has taken action with Abellio to deliver improvements for passengers. My officials continue to challenge the industry to identify actions that can be taken to sustain performance improvements.

We have invested over £475 million in the ScotRail fleet during this franchise, which has seen the total numbers of carriages increase from under 600 to more than 1,000 now, and this will rise to almost 1,050 by 2020 to meet growing demand, particularly at peak times. In

Fife, I can confirm that ScotRail is planning to provide additional carriages on two key commuter services from the December 2019 timetable change   There has already been a significant improvement to capacity, with 30, 000 extra seats now being provided daily since May across the whole network.  Unfortunately, there has been a delay in the delivery of the high-speed inter-city trains (HSTs), which allow existing diesel trains to be cascaded across busier Fife and Borders routes. The revised delivery timescales will see the cascade to Fife roll out fully during 2020.

Your point about making use of boats on the Forth is something that may be considered in the next Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) along with other options and modes. I do hope you have had the opportunity to contribute to the consultation to inform our STPR2 via National Transport Review. 


This government is committed to modal shift as is borne out by our First Minister’s recent statement on the climate emergency. We want to see more people leave their cars at home to reduce traffic congestion and travel in a sustainable mariner. We have taken action to keep rail fares down by ensuring the majority of fares do not rise above the rate of the Retail Price Index {RPI) each year, while off-peak regulated fares cannot rise any higher than one per cent below the level of RPI.


In the recent  Programme for  Government, we gave a commitment to decarbonise Scotland’s railway by 2035 and we continue to work with stakeholders as we move towards solutions that can help us in achieving that mutual goal.  Regarding Smart ticketing, Transport Scotland is working closely with ScotRail and other Scottish transport operators and public sector bodies to deliver the Scottish Government’s vision for smart ticketing and payment. This will be designed to cover bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram by making use of the most up to date technology available to achieve our objectives.


Thank you for your assurances regarding the Dalmeny Chord line proposals. We are keen to ensure this project and others such as the re-opening of the Levenmouth line are prioritised.  With regard to the Alloa – Dunfermline railway, Talgo UK has committed subject to the Award of a substantial rail contract, to build and operate a manufacturing facility at Longannet. The Scottish Government, in turn, has agreed to electrify the line between Alloa and Longannet and provide a station at the site in order to facilitate sustainable transport access.  The ongoing UK-wide Williams review offers an opportunity to reform the broken rai franchise system.  Rather than implement any measures prematurely, we await the 

Government’s white paper in the autumn before making any fundamental changes. This includes fares policy, as we would need to understand how it would work within the context of any change to franchising. I hope you find this information useful and informative

Best wishes



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