ScotRail today revealed details of its £2m plans to better prepare for a severe winter.
The expenditure is on new equipment and initiatives to keep more trains running, improve the flow of ‘live’ travel information, and enhance station access this winter.
The investment is in direct response to customer feedback and lessons learned in the aftermath of last winter, the worst in 100 years.
The train operator also launched today the first of 38 roadshows across Scotland to raise awareness of winter preparedness and to encourage people to take advantage of key sources of information when planning journeys.
The £2million spend includes:
- A UK first – ‘power shower’ systems, regarded as best practice in Finland, introduced at all maintenance depots to remove snow and ice from the undersides of trains more quickly.
- A new design of ‘polytunnels,’ each 75 metres long, also to de-ice trains faster in a controlled, warm environment.
- Significant improvements to the way people can obtain live travel information before their journeys – and at stations, on platforms, and on trains.
The roadshows – running until 25 November – will encourage people to sign up for travel alerts and also highlight 10 options for customers to stay informed.
They are being held in Aberdeen, Ayr, Bathgate, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Helensburgh, Inverkeithing, Inverness, Motherwell, Paisley, Perth, and Stirling.
The focus on improving live travel information now includes more than 800 ScotRail staff on trains being given smartphones with ‘real time’ data.
Staff at ticket offices will also have more information to keep customers updated on services.
Other improvements include a ‘traffic lights’ system on the ScotRail website to see at a glance which routes are running normally.
Customers can register to receive free text alerts and at times of disruption ScotRail’s Twitter service will stay open later to help.
Wherever possible, any decision to switch to temporary timetables will be announced in advance of forecasts of severe weather.
These reduced timetables are designed to provide a more robust service, allowing customers to plan their journeys with more confidence.
ScotRail stressed that prolonged sub-zero temperatures and snow will affect train services but that the actions taken will reduce the impact on customers this winter – and help get back to normal running as quickly as possible.
Steve Montgomery, ScotRail’s managing director, said:
“Our investment and actions demonstrate a real commitment to our customers and the lessons of last winter. It’s all about keeping customers informed and minimising disruption.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
“Thinking ahead and being prepared for winter at home, on transport networks and within local communities is something everyone can do easily.
“That is why we welcome ScotRail’s efforts to place customer information and investment in service resilience at the forefront of their efforts.
“By keeping trains moving and providing better information, the rail industry can minimise disruption while getting people on the move as quickly as possible when it does occur.”
Jacqueline Taggart, ScotRail’s Director of Customer Services, said:
“There is no doubt that services will be disrupted if there is a repeat of the extreme conditions experienced last year. However, we will do all we can to keep people informed and to take care of them.”
Network Rail is supporting the roadshows. David Simpson, route managing director, Network Rail Scotland, said:
“We are working closely with ScotRail to keep Scotland moving better this winter.”