THIS week's Advertiser community column comes from West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer.


I’M well used to hearing from frustrated rail passengers, whether they’ve been stuck for hours, repeatedly made late for work or sat with frustration and anger as the train they’re on skips their stop without warning.

These are all certainly problems on the Helensburgh line. In the last year, nearly three out of every five trains arriving into Helensburgh Central were late or cancelled, and almost one in five was delayed by over five minutes. The statistics for the Balloch line are barely any better.

Earlier this year, I put together a “top ten” stations which are regularly skipped by trains in an attempt to catch up on lost time. Seven of the top ten skipped stops were between Glasgow and Helensburgh or Balloch, including Cardross and Craigendoran. Scotrail have claimed to be taking action to make stop-skipping a last resort, but commuters see it happening so often they find that laughable.

There are two major barriers to improving our rail services. The first is that whilst ScotRail (the trains) is devolved, Network Rail (the tracks) is still reserved to the UK Parliament. We need power over both at Holyrood, to make the kind of joined-up decisions required.

The second is that ScotRail is run by a private company for profit, not the public interest. The Scottish Government can use a break clause to bring the current contract to an end three years early and allow ScotRail to be brought into public ownership. In a recent vote the SNP sided with the Tories to reject that proposal.

We need investment in new trains, new stations and essential repair work on what we currently have; re-dualling single-track lines, fixing low capacity junctions and old signalling equipment.

For example, trains coming to and from Helensburgh are frequently delayed at Westerton when they have to wait for trains from Milngavie – three out of four of which are delayed. A report I commissioned earlier this year showed the impact the Milngavie line is having on the whole rail network and how that can be solved.