More seats for commuters on North Berwick line

The introduction of brand-new class 385 electric trains from December will deliver an improved experience for East Lothian commuters.

The key improvements at a glance:

  • Half of North Berwick to Edinburgh services will have 6 carriages
  • 08:07 from Prestonpans to Edinburgh will now have 4 carriages
  • 07:55 from North Berwick to Edinburgh will now have 6 carriages
  • 17:43 from Haymarket to North Berwick will now have 6 carriages
  • More than 1,500 additional seats each day between North Berwick and Edinburgh

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said:

“These changes mark the first significant phase of timetable improvements on Scotland’s railways with £475 million being invested in rolling stock during this franchise, introducing faster, longer, greener trains.”

New electric train ready for North Berwick route

ScotRail will take another step forward in delivering faster journeys, more seats, and better services for customers with the introduction of a brand new Hitachi class 385 electric train to its North Berwick route.

Passengers travelling between North Berwick and Edinburgh will be able to experience the new six-carriage train from Monday, 10 September, as ScotRail continues its commitment to building the best railway Scotland has ever had.

17/07/18 – 18071706 – SCOTRAIL
MILLERHILL DEPOT – MUSSELBURGH
The new Class 385 trains are pictured at the Millerhill depot

This is the third of the new Hitachi trains to be introduced, with two of the new fleet already operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High.

The trains are part of ScotRail’s £475 million rolling stock investment, following the £858 million electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow by Network Rail.

Customers using the North Berwick route will now be able to use the class 385 train on as many as 15 services throughout the week, with a further 12 on Saturdays.

It’s the latest in a range of improvements to services in East Lothian, with many of the trains on the route already operating with six carriages, and the majority of peak-time trains expected to run with this increased capacity by the end of the year. Further class 385 trains are due to be introduced on the North Berwick line before the end of the year.

ScotRail’s Chief Operating Officer Angus Thom said:

“I am delighted that we are able to introduce another brand new Hitachi class 385 train, this time to the North Berwick route. We know that our customers will really notice the difference from Monday.

“This is another step forward for ScotRail as we continue our commitment to building the best railway Scotland has ever had.

“The introduction of these trains will benefit customers all across the country, as they will allow us to move existing trains on this route out across the network. This will help us to deliver faster journeys, more seats, and better services for our customers.”

Transport Scotland’s Director of Rail Bill Reeve said:

“This latest introduction of the class 385 fleet brings the benefits of our new electric trains to North Berwick and Dunbar services and is just the start of delivering more seats across peak services and improved facilities to passengers along this route.

“This is all part of an ongoing Scottish Government commitment to ensuring Scotland’s railways are a popular choice and demonstrates the real benefits of our extensive programme of electrification. Work continues to deliver the remainder of the fleet which, once in service, will increase overall seating capacity by more than 23% across the Scottish network.” 

The ScotRail Alliance – taking Pride in its appearance

ScotRail Alliance brands trains with Pride rainbows to celebrate the LGBTI event

15/06/18 – 18061502 – SCOTRAIL
EDINBURGH WAVERLY STATION – EDINBURGH
Scotrail show their support for Pride Edinburgh by displaying their logo on the side of one of their trains

 

ScotRail trains have been branded with the rainbow symbol to mark Pride Edinburgh this weekend.

 

Two ScotRail Class 170 trains have been branded with Pride’s iconic rainbow symbol in support of Pride Edinburgh, which takes place tomorrow (Saturday).

 

The trains will be in service across the country, including on the popular Edinburgh – Glasgow Queen Street main line, and the Borders Railway.

 

The ‘Pride Trains’ are the latest demonstration of the ScotRail Alliance’s support of Scotland’s LGBTI community.

 

Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance Managing Director, said:

 

“I’m thrilled to support Pride Edinburgh with our specially designed rainbow trains.

 

“At the ScotRail Alliance we want our workforce to reflect the diversity of our customers. We’re building the best railway Scotland has ever had, and we need the best people to do this.

 

“I would encourage anybody attending Pride Edinburgh, or with an interest in LGBTI, to get in touch with us to find out more about the work the ScotRail Alliance is doing to celebrate diversity and promote equality.”

 

Jamie Love, Pride Edinburgh, said:

 

“We at Pride Edinburgh are very grateful that ScotRail is proudly supporting and promoting our celebration of love in the Scottish capital.”

 

ScotRail Alliance to confirm improvements in East Lothian

The ScotRail Alliance will confirm how they are improving rail services for customers in East Lothian at a public meeting on Thursday evening (03 May).

The most recent figures show the level of service on the North Berwick route has improved in recent months, with 94.1 per cent of ScotRail trains meeting their target arrival time, having stopped at all scheduled stations. This is up by 10 per cent from the most challenging period last year.

And, over the past twelve weeks, just one in almost 3,000 services to run on the route missed a stop in order to prevent disruption spreading across the network.

More carriages are also heading to services in East Lothian: a number of trains on the route already have six carriages, following a trial early last year that has since been made permanent. By the end of the year, the majority of peak-time trains between North Berwick and Edinburgh are expected to have six carriages.

Once the new Hitachi Class 385 trains enter service, these will be introduced on the Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High route, followed by the North Berwick route.

This announcement comes ahead of a public meeting on rail services in East Lothian which will take place in Prestonpans Town Hall, on Thursday 3 May at 7pm where leaders from the ScotRail Alliance will meet customers, as well as Martin Whitfield MP and Iain Gray MSP.

Phil Campbell, ScotRail’s Head of Customer Operations, who will be at the meeting said:

“Along with ScotRail Alliance colleagues, I’m looking forward to meeting with our customers in Prestonpans, answering their questions about the service we provide and the improvements we will be making.

“We know that East Lothian is an exceptionally popular place to live, and there’s an ever-growing demand for our services to and from Edinburgh.

“With that in mind, we are doing all we can to ensure everyone has a comfortable journey. By the end of this year, even more of our customers will be able to benefit from longer trains with more seats and better services.”

Parliamentarians to hold public meeting on local rail concerns

Iain Gray MSP and Martin Whitfield MP are holding a public meeting to provide a further opportunity for rail users to highlight ongoing problems with the service on the North Berwick Line.

The local parliamentarians have decided to hold the meeting following continued widespread frustration and complaints about the issues that have dogged the line, such as serious overcrowding, frequent delays and cancellations, and problems with ticketing, including broken ticket machines.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 3rd May at Prestonpans Town Hall starting at 7pm. The ScotRail Alliance has been invited to send a representative to help answer questions from those who attend the meeting.

Iain Gray MSP said:

I have spent years campaigning for the kind of safe, regular and reliable rail services that people in East Lothian need. Sadly, despite various promises and warm words from successive SNP Government Rail Ministers and ScotRail bosses, little progress has been made.

Indeed, I continue to receive a regular flow of complaints from local rail users about their poor experience on the North Berwick Line. Frequent overcrowding, sometimes to the point where passengers have felt unsafe, delays and cancellations cause huge frustration to those using the line.

This is unacceptable and must change. Martin and I intend to use this public meeting to reiterate the strength of feeling on the issue and relaunch our local #RailChange campaign for improvements in local services.”

Martin Whitfield MP said:

Last year I helped to organise Prestonpans’ community council’s public meeting on local rail services. That event was well attended and provided an opportunity for local rail users to make their feelings known and quiz ScotRail about the numerous problems they were experiencing.

Some commitments were made at that meeting around delivering improvements on the North Berwick Line. However, I think it’s clear to anyone who uses services on the line that very little has changed over the last 12 months.

This ongoing misery for commuters in East Lothian is simply not good enough. We need to see real action from all partners to remedy the problems and deliver a reliable service for local rail users. This meeting will provide another opportunity to push for that change.”

ScotRail Alliance launches new £400,000 Cycling Fund

The ScotRail Alliance has launched a £400,000 Cycle Fund, as part of its ongoing commitment to improving access and facilities for cyclists at Scotland’s railway stations.

 Over the next four years, £100,000 a year will be made available to local councils and community organisations. This funding will be used to deliver projects which contribute to the ScotRail Alliance’s vision of providing a ‘doorstep to destination’ journey for customers, whilst reducing congestion and pollution. The fund will provide up to 50% of project costs.

 The fund can be used to support projects which will:

 ScotRail Alliance Cycling Manager Kathryn Mackay said:

“We’ve delivered an unprecedented investment in cycling in recent years, with the provision of Bike & Go at 12 stations, and over 1,200 extra cycle spaces.

 “The £400,000 Cycling Fund will allow us to continue this investment by delivering our vision of a seamless ‘doorstep to destination’ journey for customers. We are encouraging councils and local community groups to take advantage of this great opportunity. It’s all part of our plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

 Transport Scotland Head of Rail Franchising Andrew Mackie said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to getting more people to make active travel choices by encouraging modal shift wherever possible.  The Cycle Fund offers organisations the opportunity to work with ScotRail to deliver enhanced cycling infrastructure and encourage as many people as possible to integrate cycling into their everyday journeys. 

 “This is all part of our core vision to make the railway as accessible as possible and jointly supports the Scottish Government’s vision to increase the number of people using rail, and the proportion of journeys made by bike”.

 

SCOTRAIL ALLIANCE PUBLISHES DETAILS OF PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PLAN

  • Series of action plans to improve performance – including Golden Trains, Fleet Upgrades and Asset Improvement Programme
  • Performance has fallen 0.7% below expected levels in recent months to just under 90%
  • Publication comes as ScotRail Alliance steps up its ‘Ready for Autumn’ campaign

The ScotRail Alliance has published details on how they will improve train service performance.

The Performance Improvement Plan (click to open pdf) sets out actions that are being put in place to improve the reliability of trains and to ensure that the train infrastructure – including points, tracks and signals – is operating to its optimum efficiency.

The plan also covers improvements to the way train services are operated – including the identification, monitoring and protecting of ‘Golden Trains’. These are the services that, if delayed, have the biggest impact on the rest of the rest of the rail network.

The publication comes as the ScotRail Alliance steps up its work to prepare for Autumn – traditionally one of the most difficult periods for train operators across the UK – by rolling out its fleet of specialist trains to clean the tracks of falling vegetation.

Key points from the Performance Improvement Plan:

  • An £8m Asset Improvement Programme to replace or enhance key pieces of critical railway infrastructure in order to ensure that they are working at their absolute best
  • Specifically tailored upgrade programmes for key parts of the network such as Edinburgh and the Borders, Lanarkshire and Tayside
  • A programme of upgrades to trains to rectify the most common causes of faults
  • The identification, monitoring and protection of the ‘Golden Trains’ that, if delayed, have the biggest impact on the rest of the rail network
  • A programme to identify alterations to the way we operate our train timetable that will make our overall service more effective
  • Plans to improve the way we roster staff and diagram trains

ScotRail Alliance Infrastructure Director, David Dickson said: “We are not a just a company made up of metal boxes, wooden sleepers or concrete buildings. We have 7500 people working for us – and every single one of them is dedicated to doing the very best for our customers.

“Our railway is undergoing the biggest period of change and modernisation since the Victorian era. Over the course of the next year or so we will be completing huge projects to upgrade our infrastructure, electrifying large parts of the network and introducing new fleets of faster, longer greener and intercity trains.

“All of this work will transform rail travel in Scotland. We will have shorter journey times, better equipped trains and, crucially, a huge expansion in the number of services we run and the seats we are able to offer. When we complete this work, there will be a hundred thousand more seats available each and every weekday than there was at the start of the current Franchise.

“With this amount of change, there is inevitably some disruption. We are doing everything we can to minimise this – such as the work we did to keep people moving during the closure of the Queen Street Tunnel. However, there is no doubt that our performance in recent months, as a result of all of this work, has dipped slightly. The plan we are publishing today details how we bring it back to the level that our customers expect and that we want to deliver.”

On the plans to prepare for Autumn, David Dickson added: “Autumn is one of the most difficult periods for all rail operators across Britain. Leaves on the line has become a cliché over the years, but the problems that are caused by wet weather and vegetation are all too real.

“Leaf debris on the tracks can cause train wheels to slip – increasing breaking distances and making conditions more difficult for our drivers.

“We are committing a huge amount of time, effort and people to tackling these problems. The special trains we are deploying play a hugely important role in clearing tracks and keeping trains moving.”

RAGES: Write to your MSP

This note was circulated at the RAGES - Rail Action Group East of Scotland AGM. 

Reston and East Linton stations are within our grasp and we need you to keep up the pressure on your MSP and ultimately the Transport Minister, otherwise we face another 20 years of closed stations and no hope of trains ever returning to Berwickshire and East Lothian. 

Below is a style of Email or Letter for your MSP. Please send this to at least one of your elected representatives - or to all of them - so that they know that the people of Berwickshire and East Lothian are really in favour of our Stations returning.
-------------------------------------------------Suggested Email to South of Scotland MSPs:
Rachael.Hamilton.msp@parliament.scot; Iain.Gray.msp@parliament.scot; Joan.McAlpine.msp@parliament.scot; Emma.Harper.msp@parliament.scot; Paul.Wheelhouse.msp@parliament.scot; Brian.Whittle.msp@parliament.scot; Claudia.Beamish.msp@parliament.scot; Colin.Smyth.msp@parliament.scot; John.Lamont.msp@parliament.scot 

Dear (MSP Name) I am writing to ask you to lobby the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, to go ahead with the re-opening of our stations at Reston in Berwickshire and East Linton in East Lothian, where we have been campaigning for almost 20 years. A good business case has been made for both stations and both Scottish Borders Council and East Lothian Council are very supportive. We now need the Minister to prioritise these re-openings to enable our rural areas to grow and to benefit from all the advantages that a rail link brings. More information can be found at http://www.rages.org.uk/. Please help us overcome this final hurdle to get our stations Back on Track. (Your Name and Address)..................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................

RAGES OPEN MEETING AT PRESTONPANS

RAGES has organised an open meeting and invited Phil Verster, Managing Director of ScotRail Alliance, to discuss the current and future operation of the Edinburgh to North Berwick and Dunbar service and the future service to Berwick.  The meeting will be held in Prestonpans Town Hall on 25th July 2016 at 19:00 until 21:00.

All members are invited to attend.  There will be set questions compiled by the committee, but there should be ample time for questions from the floor.

Members can also invite friends, neighbours or fellow travellers who have an interest in this service.  Entry is free, but there will be the opportunity for non-members to join RAGES at the usual subscription of £4 per annum!

The Town Hall address is: New Street, PRESTONPANS, EH32 9JW.  New Street is off the High Street (B1348)

RAGES hopes to see you there.

Russell Darling

Rail Action Group, East of Scotland
www.rages.org.uk

Your Railway, Your Say

Any commuters on the North Berwick to Edinburgh peak time trains can attest to the overcrowding and unreliability of the ticket machines.

ScotRail has launched The Platform – an online panel to give you a chance to have your say on how Scotland’s railway is run.

To register, you will need to complete a few short questions about yourself and how you currently get out and about. Once you have registered you can then take part in your first survey!

You might also be interested in joining rail pressure group RAGES, which has as one its aims “To improve the rail service between Edinburgh, Dunbar and Berwick upon Tweed.”.  Membership is only £4 and you will be kept up to date with the latest rail developments.