East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson has accused SNP Transport Secretary Michael Matheson MSP of dodging responsibility on the Milngavie line after he once again refused to pursue the matter with her, saying he could “see little benefit in having a further meeting”.
Matheson cancelled two previous meetings with Swinson to discuss urgent action on the line, including the option of re-dualling. When the meeting was subsequently rescheduled, Matheson failed to include any local MPs, choosing to meet only with local councillors.
In a letter from Matheson, he refers to Milngavie as “currently one of the best performing lines”. However, ScotRail’s most recent performance update clearly shows the line at the bottom of the table for all of Scotland, with only 29.1 per cent of trains over the last 12 months arriving on time, compared to the 93.6 per cent that arrived on time at Dalmally.
The Milngavie line has long suffered from chronic delays, cancellations and train breakdowns, causing endless chaos for many local commuters. Swinson has campaigned for years to bring about improvements, hosting a public meeting with ScotRail’s Managing Director Alex Hynes, and running a survey to collect evidence of people’s experiences on the line.
In the survey, 75 per cent of respondents described the local train services as ‘poor’ or ‘appalling’, while two-thirds said their services were disrupted at least once a week.
Commenting, Jo Swinson said:
“The Scottish government has been utterly hopeless in holding ScotRail to account. After cancelling multiple meetings and then excluding local MPs, Mr Matheson now seems to think he has better things to do than engage with elected representatives on improving the Milngavie line. I think local residents forced to deal with the daily chaos on the line would beg to differ.
“Fixing the Milngavie line is going to take broad cooperation, and if ScotRail can’t get their act together, then it’s time to end the rail franchise deal early. But the Scottish government would rather drag their feet than credibly deal with a problem that’s disrupting many people’s daily lives.
“With such poor train performance figures it’s clear that the SNP are dodging responsibility and trying to hide from their failures. People in East Dunbartonshire deserve a train service that’s actually fit for purpose, and they deserve a Transport Secretary who is willing to work together to make the necessary improvements.
“I encourage local residents to continue to fill out my survey about how the Milngavie line has affected them. I look forward to discussing these findings with the Transport Secretary as soon as possible.”