Scotland’s railways are under scrutiny as the latest ScotRail report into performance is released.
Scottish Labour has campaigned for the rail service to be re-nationalised after the current Abellio franchise expires, and has repeatedly criticised performance in recent years.
On Monday, the party’s transport spokesman Neil Bibby MSP responded to the latest figures by claiming 60 per cent of Scottish stations failed to hit punctuality targets in July. The story was picked up by a number of national newspapers, including The Herald, Evening Times, and Daily Record. It was also covered by the Wings Over Scotland blog.
Ferret Fact Service assessed this claim and found it to be False.
The performance of train companies in the UK is measured using a method called the Public Performance Measure (PPM).
The measurement is used widely across Europe to indicate train reliability. ScotRail defines it as “the percentage of trains that arrive at their final destination within five minutes of the advertised time”.
The rail franchise releases information on its service in relation to the PPM, as well as the stricter measure of services arriving within one minute of scheduled arrival time.
Neil Bibby claims that 60 per cent of stations missed punctuality targets in July. He is referring to the widely-used PPM target, which is the only one used for punctuality by ScotRail.
The current target is set at 90.8 per cent of journeys within the PPM range of five minutes.
However the statistics released do not break down PPM percentages by station for July. They give overall figures for express services, the Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street line, rural services, and other regional areas in the east and west of the country. This gave an overall July figure of 93.7 per cent, with the ‘moving annual average’ at 90.7 per cent, only 0.1 of a percentage point below the target.
The figures for terminal stations as referred to by Neil Bibby are in fact statistics using rolling 12 month figures (as in the last 12 months rather than a calendar year), which can’t be used to make claims about individual station performance in July.
Looking at the 73 terminal stations in the report, 43 out of 73 had less than 90.8 per cent of trains arriving within five minutes in the last 12 months. As a percentage of stations achieving the target this equates to just under 60 per cent, the figure Bibby and Scottish Labour have used. But this is not a measure of all stations, just terminal stations which were publicly released.
There are 359 stations served by ScotRail, with only 73 listed in the statistical update. As a percentage of these, the 43 referenced by Scottish Labour equates to just under 12 per cent.
The franchise does not set targets for individual stations, with the PPM target of 90.8 per cent set for the overall service across all stations.
Ferret Fact Service verdict: False
Scottish Labour’s Neil Bibby has used the statistics provided by ScotRail incorrectly. His claim that July saw 60 per cent of stations missing punctuality targets actually referred to statistics from the last 12 months. The information used to calculate the percentage was not comprehensive, only accounting for 73 out of 359 stations served by ScotRail trains.
Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, working to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Any questions or want to get involved? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our community forum.
In response to a Ferret Fact Service request for evidence, Scottish Labour provided a breakdown of the released statistics from ScotRail.