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.”

North Berwick station up for top award

North Berwick station has been nominated as one of the best stations in Britain.

ScotRail has announced that North Berwick station has been shortlisted in the ‘Station of the Year’ category of the National Rail Awards 2018.

The East Lothian station will be judged against set criteria, including safety, infrastructure and customer-friendly presentation.

North Berwick station was reduced to a single platform in the 1960s and lost its traditional buildings in 1984.

However, it remains a pleasant and welcoming seaside terminus, thanks to the award-winning efforts of station adopters North Berwick in Bloom and to the work of station newsagent Craig McLaren who has produced a guide to the attractions of the town.

The National Rail Awards will be held on Thursday 13 September at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

James Ledgerwood, ScotRail’s Head of Economic & Community Development, said:

 “North Berwick station remains one of the most welcoming stations on our network, and we are absolutely delighted to see it shortlisted. 

“Making our stations a more pleasant and relaxing place to catch a train is a key part of our plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

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.” 

Take a peek at peak times

Have you ever wondered what ‘peak’ and ‘off peak’ times are on the Edinburgh – North Berwick railway line?

Unable to find an answer on their website, I tweeted Scotrail:

I didn’t find the information on the National Rail Enquiries website particularly easy to read so thought it might be helpful to set out the information clearly below:

Station

PEAK

OFF- PEAK
NBW 06:07 06:47 07:17 07:55 08:45 09:27
DRM 06:14 06:54 07:25 08:03 08:53 09:34
LND 06:20 07:00 07:31 08:09 08:58 09:40
PST 06:25 07:05 07:36 08:07 08:14 09:03 09:45
WAF 06:28 07:08 07:40 08:10 08:18 09:06 09:48
MUB 06:32 07:12 07:44 08:16 08:22 09:10 09:52
Station

OFF- PEAK

PEAK

OFF- PEAK
EDB

16:42

17:15

17:48

18:14

So, in a nutshell, if you’re heading to Edinburgh in the morning, the first off-peak train is the one that leaves North Berwick at 09:27.  Coming back to East Lothian from Edinburgh, there are two peak trains: 17:15 and 17:48.  Weekends are always off-peak.

Hope this helps but please remember, this is only my interpretation of the current timetable, if you need additional information please contact Scotrail.

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.”

ScotRail aiming to save lives with new app

ScotRail has launched a new app for all employee phones and tablets to help prevent suicides on the railway.

Developed by Network Rail in partnership with Samaritans and the wider rail industry, the app gives employees guidance on possible warning signs and how best to support someone in need. It also provides a direct link to the British Transport Police for immediate support and advice.

The app is now available to all 4,500 ScotRail employees on their smartphones and tablets and is in addition to Samaritans’ specialist suicide prevention training that more than 300 ScotRail Alliance colleagues have completed.

The app has been available on all Network Rail Scotland employee devices since 2017.

The ScotRail Alliance is also supporting the ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign, which aims to give travellers the confidence to act if they notice someone who may be at risk of suicide on or around the rail network.

People are being reminded that if they concerned about someone they see on the railway or elsewhere, they should trust their instincts:

  • Suicidal thoughts can often be temporary.
  • Strike up a conversation with a simple question such as asking about the weather, or where they’re travelling today.
  • If you think someone may need help, introduce yourself, encourage them to talk and focus on listening. 
  • There’s no evidence that talking to someone who could be at risk can make things worse. 
  • It’s important to act. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person yourself, tell a member of staff, a police officer or dial 999.

David Lister, ScotRail Alliance sustainability & safety assurance director, said:

“The ScotRail Alliance takes its commitment to supporting those with mental health problems very seriously.

“Encountering someone in distress on the railway can be a daunting experience, even for the most experienced of our people. That’s why we’ve launched this app for ScotRail employees, to offer quick help and advice to those who come across someone who needs urgent support.

“Thanks to the work done by the rail industry and Samaritans, for every life lost on the railway, six are saved.”

James Jopling, Executive Director for Samaritans in Scotland, said:

“Suicide is not inevitable and any one of us could have an opportunity to save a life. By empowering their staff to act if they see someone at risk, the rail industry continues to make great efforts in reducing and preventing suicide across Scotland.”

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.”

ScotRail enhances cycling parking at stations

To mark Cycle To Work Day 2016, ScotRail has announced further significant progress in its continuing programme to expand cycle parking at stations across the network.

Since the start of the current franchise, Abellio ScotRail has installed more than 600 additional cycle parking spaces. This is part of the train operator’s wider commitment to encourage sustainable access and smart, integrated travel across Scotland.

These new cycle spaces complement the Bike & Go scheme, currently available at 10 stations, allowing customers to travel by train and hire a bike at their destination to use around the area.

Edinburgh Haymarket, Largs and Linlithgow, where Bike & Go has also been introduced this year, are among the stations to have additional cycle parking installed – 66, 48 and 40 new spaces respectively.

The focus of this initiative is on making it easier for customers to have a sustainable commute, and to create more demand for cycling to busy commuter stations by providing improved facilities and connected travel opportunities.

Fourteen other stations have benefitted from new cycle spaces since April last year, including 32 at Drem and 10 at North Berwick

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “I would like to ensure that as many people as possible can conveniently integrate journeys by rail and bike for their daily commute, or indeed any other journey. This is why a strong focus was made on specifying additional and enhanced cycling facilities at stations as part of the ScotRail franchise.

“Offering passengers more facilities like cycle spaces at stations is a core part of our 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.”

Ian McConnell, ScotRail’s Programmes and Transformation Director said: “Travelling by train is already a great choice for the environment, but we’re committed to providing as many sustainable travel options as possible.

“More and more of our passengers are cycling to the station as part of their daily commute or for leisure travel, and we want to encourage more people to do the same.

“By investing in high quality cycle parking we aim to make it easy for customers to make healthy, sustainable choices for their journey to and from the station.

“And Bike & Go adds another option, where people don’t even need their own cycle. It’s a fantastic way for customers to complete their onward journey by bicycle.

“The easy-to-use bikes are ideal for business travellers, visitors and day-trippers.”

Daisy Narayanan, Deputy Director for Built Environment, Sustrans Scotland added: “We welcome this increase in cycle parking spaces by Abellio ScotRail to help encourage people to leave their bike at the station and use the train as part of their everyday journeys.

“Cycling is a great way for people of all age groups to increase their level of physical activity and improve their health and wellbeing.

“We are continuing to work in partnership with communities and organisations across Scotland to make journeys by foot, bicycle and public transport easier and simpler, and to help create vibrant, well-designed communities.”

More information on Bike & Go and ScotRail’s cycling initiatives can be found at scotrail.co.uk/cycling