THE ScotRail franchise has been given a loan by Dutch Railways, the parent company of Abellio.
Abellio ScotRail Limited lost £3.5 million ‘post tax’ in 2016, according to its latest accounts, and the company has been supported this year with ‘Group Loan Support’ of £10 million from Abellio Transport Holdings in Utrecht. Revenue was up by a quarter, to £610.1 million, but staff costs were also reported to be 40 per cent higher.
Abellio said in spite of the recent results, the outlook for its Scottish franchise remained ’robust’, with new Hitachi trains set to come into service on the newly-electrified Edinburgh-Glasgow route soon. Refurbished HSTs are also arriving for service on longer-distance Scottish routes, such as Edinburgh to Aberdeen.
Performance has been patchy since the change of franchise owner, but some of the problems have been associated with disruption caused by the electrification works, which included a long closure of the tunnel approaches to Glasgow Queen Street.
The figures have been improving more recently. Performance statistics for the four weeks to 16 September showed that 94.1 per cent of ScotRail trains met punctuality standards, while the franchise scored 90 per cent customer satisfaction in the last National Rail Passenger Survey, published in July.
The accounts include a note: “Performance dipped during the year  and a performance improvement plan notice was issued by Transport Scotland as a result of PPM falling below our Franchise Agreement requirements. The plan put in place to address this has now delivered the required performance and PPM has recently improved year on year for six periods in a row.”
A spokesman for ScotRail explained: “It is not surprising that the challenges of last year have had a negative impact on our financial performance and we are disappointed to be recording a loss. As with previous years, and despite reports to the contrary, there will be no dividend paid to our parent company in the Netherlands.”
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “ScotRail has come a long way since the Performance Improvement Plan was implemented a year ago and last month saw them become the best performing large train operator in the UK.
“While now above PIP levels, ScotRail is maintaining focus on continued improvement as ‘business as usual’.”