ScotRail has promised to invest around £18 million to help deliver “significant improvements” to its service, it has been announced.
It should see more frontline staff, an increased focus on fleet reliability and an upgrade to customer information screens at 16 stations across the country.
Funding will be provided after a remedial agreement was reached between ScotRail and Transport Scotland to ensure that performance levels improve after a number of delays and cancellations.
The operator also indicated that £500,000 will be spent every year on the Performance Improvement Fund (PIF) – aimed at empowering local managers to identify and implement changes.
A specially-created role within the ScotRail operations team was also announced to ensure delivery of a new three-year traincrew resource plan.
The rail operator has been issued with two remedial notices since December following a number of cancellations and delays.
On Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the rail operator was in the “last-chance saloon” and described recent performance levels as being “completely unacceptable”.
A remedial notice requires ScotRail to submit a plan within 12 weeks on how it will address performance issues raised.
On Friday, Transport Scotland stated that it had entered into the remedial agreement with ScotRail on acceptance of the proposals to improve performance.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “I have instructed my officials to ensure robust measures are put in place to monitor progress very closely and I expect to see a continued upward trend of performance improvement. I will give an update on this at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee next week.
“I have also been clear that franchising in its current format doesn’t work and that is why I continue to push Scotland’s interests, including further devolution of rail powers, to the UK-wide Williams review.
“Rail must deliver a system of greater reliability for users – customers, businesses and stakeholders deserve this much.”
ScotRail Alliance managing director Alex Hynes said: “Improving the service our customers receive is the priority for everyone at ScotRail, working with Network Rail and key suppliers. I am confident that this plan will deliver significant improvements on Scotland’s Railway.
“We have worked hard to identify specific areas to focus our efforts where they will have the most impact. The funds we have invested in this plan is a demonstration of our commitment to delivering the service our customers expect and deserve.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Mike Rumbles MSP said: “Does the Transport Secretary think that long suffering rail customers have short memories?
“The previous Transport Secretary (Humza Yousaf) heralded his ‘improvement plan’ in January last year. Now we have the current Transport Secretary’s “remedial plan”.
“Has he any explanation as to why anyone should believe him that the Scottish Government’s remedial plan will work when their improvement plan failed so miserably?
“The Scottish Government should stop making excuses for ScotRail and terminate their contract at the first opportunity in April next year.”
Labour Transport spokesmanb Colin Smyth said: “Nicola Sturgeon said this week that Abellio was in the last chance saloon, but they have had more final warnings from the SNP than the Rolling Stones have had farewell tours.
“If the company were as good as running the railway as they are at running rings round SNP ministers then passengers would be getting a world class service at rock bottom prices.
“Instead we have overcrowded, overpriced trains that either run late or don’t run at all. That’s why Labour’s plans for public ownership is winning support across the country.”
The Scottish Conservatives branded the plan a “targetless, toothless and meagre attempt to buy time”.