First ScotRail: getting better?

I’ve not been on a train for a couple of weeks now. Thank goodness for that, eh? Well actually, I don’t dread the train rides so much these days. Gordon McLean says, “Praise where due,” First ScotRail have improved a lot recently. I agree.

By the end of my first semester at university, back when the franchise was still run by National Express, I had a list of bad stories as long as my arm. Even when First Group took over some pretty infuriating things happened, which led to me calling them Worst ScotRail.

But in this past year I’ve had hardly anything notable happening with the trains. Perhaps this is because I’m more used to it now, but I do have a feeling that things are slowly but surely getting better with First ScotRail.

I think First Scotrail take the Fife Circle really seriously. I believe it is the fastest-growing route in Scotland and a year ago Fife–Edinburgh was said to be the worst route in Scotland.

But this past year has been pretty good. Trains are usually on time (which was certainly not the case a year ago) and on the Fife Circle we’re particularly lucky because recently they’ve been giving us loads of the swish new Class 170 trains that are actually comfortable and pleasant to travel on. A vast improvement on the shoogly trains they sold to Arriva Trains Wales (suckers!). My brother, who regularly travels to Dundee and Stirling and sometimes down south, says that it’s better here on the East Coast Main Line than more central areas (and overall he has few complaints).

I think the only vaguely interesting thing that’s happened to me with the trains recently was when I arrived at the platform and nobody was there except the driver and the platform dude talking to each other. I couldn’t enter the train because the doors were locked. Another passenger came along, but then the train just drove off unannounced (I ran to catch that train as well). It turned out that the train was cancelled due to a train failure of some sort (it’s true: the communication is pretty good these days).

I’m not sure about inspections getting more regular. At peak time, yes, they check your ticket at the station, which they never used to. But the amount of people I still see wandering on the train in the afternoon in Kirkcaldy and getting off at Kinghorn for free is still too high for my liking. Get to Kinghorn in about five minutes for free! Nice work!

There are the usual delays of course. This is something that I am used to, and if I end up late because of the train I consider it to be my own fault because I know I should have got my arse out of bed earlier to catch the previous train. What is infuriating, though, is that I am sure about 90% of delays occur on the way into Waverley Station, easily within walking distance of the platform. But I guess that would be why they’re rebuilding part of it.

So things are still far from perfect — but I will join Gordon McLean in saying “thank you” to First ScotRail.

Meanwhile, Mr Angry has his own bone to pick with somebody who couldn’t be arsed to get out of bed earlier to catch the previous train.


  1. My friend came to visit this weekend, and she was so impressed by the rail service in Scotland. Not surprising seeing as all the trains back home look like they have old bus seats in them, and probably haven’t been replaced since the 70’s…

    I think when you come from somewhere where the rail service is like that, you appreciate the First Scotrail service a lot more.

  2. Yeah, Gordon told me about the trains that had old bus seats. They sound really grotty. Did you ever experience the old trains we used to have (the ones that got sold to Arriva Wales)?

  3. Can’t see Last Scotrail getting any better. I do the Stirling – Edinburgh service. Trains arrive about 6 minutes late as matter or course. Old trains still brake down. Drivers often don’t turn up in the morning resulting in a cancelled service – apparently often as a result of a night on the pish. Yet FS still reap the profits, at taxpayers expense.

  4. Heh – I just googled ‘F-ing Scotrail’ and got your site! I was hoping to complain about getting stuck on a train today because the doors wouldn’t open, but I’ve told so many people I’m beginning to bore myself.

    Hope the job hunt is going well.