the rail service in Stonehaven and surrounding areas was described as “unpredictable” and “appalling” by members of Stonehaven and District Community Council at their meeting this week.
The discussion of the service came as the community council filled out a consultation which is being carried out by ScotRail into the franchise.
Members of the Community Council came together to fill out the document to ensure that the service in and around Stonehaven was taken into account.
When presenting a draft of the response to the consultation a number of issues with the rail service came to light.
One problem was the service at Stonehaven station. It was explained that as staff at the station finish at 7pm after this time there is no-one to place the ramp on the trains, making it very difficult, if not impossible, for those with disabilities or children in prams to use the train service after 7pm.
Also, the design of the station was questioned. It was claimed that the current shelter does not stretch all the way to the ground and so does not protect travellers from the weather.
It was questioned as to how people could be expected to use public transport when they could be warm and dry in their car as opposed to standing on a windy platform waiting on an “inconsistent” rail service. The “inconsistency” was highlighted by members of the Community Council as they explained that the timetable is very irregular.
Community Councillor David Fleming suggested that the trains should run a “clockface service” which would mean trains would arrive at the same time every hour.
Concerns were also raised about the amount of time people have to spend standing on trains. There were reports of people having to stand from Stonehaven to Edinburgh and even as far as Manchester.
ScotRail’s policy of passengers standing for no longer than ten minutes caused some bewilderment amongst the council however this quickly turned to concern as it was revealed that they are considering changing the time to 30 minutes. Community Councillors worried that this would just make it harder to get more carriages added and would make the problem worse.
Issues were also raised about anti social behaviour on the trains, with members saying they had experienced this during the day due to people being under the influence of alcohol on the trains. The lack of late night trains on a Saturday night was also discussed.
Councillor Graeme Clark welcomed the Community Council’s participation in the consultation. He said: “We have a rail service but it is not really good enough. If you can, use this consultation as a way to express your concerns. This is your chance.”
All of the issues raised were noted by those filling out the response and will be returned to ScotRail before the consultation closes later this month. The public can take part in the consultation on-line and there is still time to get opinions in on the ScotRail franchise.