An increase in the practice of ‘stop skipping’ on Scotland’s railways has been branded ‘extremely disappointing’ by the Scottish Greens.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson revealed, in response to a written question from John Finnie, that 2,660 services failed to stop at all designated stations on their route last year.
Mr Matheson said 0.33% of all trains booked to run in 2019 were affected by the problem.
The figure is higher than the 2,131 trains being reported to Transport Scotland for missing some stations between January 7 2018 and January 5 2019.
Mr Finnie, the Greens’ transport spokesman, said: “It is extremely disappointing that instances of stop skipping have increased by almost a fifth in a year.
“Folk rely on our rail services for work, education and so much more and it is simply unacceptable that this level of inconvenience occurs.
“It is not unreasonable to expect that your train calls at all the stations advertised.
“Everyone accepts that delays and cancellations will happen from time to time on a busy network but this should be minimised.”
While current ScotRail operators Abellio will cease running services in March 2022 after Mr Matheson decided not to run their contract for the full 10 years, Mr Finnie said the issue of stop skipping must be considered when the franchise changes.
He added: “Given that stop skipping is only treated as a ‘partial cancellation’ in the franchise agreement, there are times when deliberately bypassing stations could be financially advantageous for the operator.
“It is vital that the Transport Secretary ensures this arrangement does not continue when the next franchise agreement is drawn up.”
He also urged ministers to invest more cash in rail travel, saying: “It is particularly important in light of the climate emergency that we encourage more people out of their cars and onto public transport.
“Increased inconvenience and higher fares are not a combination that would appeal to many, it’s therefore vital that the Scottish Government urgently prioritise investment in improving rail travel in Scotland.”
A ScotRail spokesman said: “Missing out stations is never done to meet targets or for financial gain.
“If a train fails to stop at a scheduled station then it automatically fails to meet our very challenging targets.”
He added: “We completely understand that this doesn’t make it any less frustrating for our customers when it happens and we do everything we can to minimise services or stops being cancelled.
“It’s a very rare occurrence for a train to miss a stop and is only done as a last resort measure to limit knock-on disruption to customers across the wider network.
“Compensation is available for customers who are delayed by 30 minutes or more as a result of a missed stop or cancellation.”