This week columnist Ruth Wishart shares her thoughts on the much-criticised ScotRail practice of 'station skipping'.

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Imagine, if you will, popping on a plane to Bristol whose end destination is Toulouse.

As you prepare to disembark in the south west of England, a disembodied voice tells you that in order to massage the plane’s turnaround time statistics they’ve decided to go straight to France.

Except that the announcement would never be quite that specific. All you would be advised is that the advertised stop is no longer available. Tough.

And that, in essence, is what has been happening these many months on our railways.

Mindful of ministerial interest in their performance, Scotrail/Abellio have frequently, and arbitrarily, taken several stations out of the published equation in order that the arrival times will be nearer to those advertised and logged.

So you may get on in Helensburgh with the fond hope of alighting at, say, Dalmuir, only to see its signage whisk past your view as the train gallops on towards a stop further down the line.

The polite term for this manoeuvre is 'station skipping'. Other, more robust, terms are regularly deployed by passengers, with steam emerging from every visible orifice.

Mention this to the operator involved and they will make soothing noises about station upgrades, new rolling stock, and their passionate concern for customer care. (Pause here for robust term, inappropriate for family newspapers.)

Parts of Glasgow Queen Street station – the most used ultimate destination for Burgh commuters – have been wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in abeyance since God was a girl. Not least its car park.

Its concourse services have been reduced to a few itinerant trolleys. Its ticket office has been camped across the road.

And apparently, at this somewhat late date, there is fresh debate about the shape and size of the new build abutting the concourse.

As a regular rail user, I note other less than ideal phenomena.

Trains at peak periods which have three carriages and hordes of standing passengers.

Trains at non peak periods which have six carriages echoing to the solitary footsteps of the lonely ticketherd.

Journeys of two hours’ duration and more which have no catering facilities.

Journeys of one hour and less where the chance to ambush same before alighting are slim.

Scotland is in a slightly better position than other parts of the UK, since there is one train operating company. Which should, in theory, make it easier for the government to take it in-house.

But that, we’re advised, while under consideration, is a political route fraught with more difficulties than getting a Helensburgh-Glasgow train which runs on time and stops where it says it will.