AN “early autumn” has been blamed for a dip in the performance of Scotland’s rail service.

Alex Hynes, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said “the timing of autumn” had impacted on train services across the country, as well as “a bit of bad luck”.

It comes as he revealed a new fleet of electric trains will operate on the Edinburgh to Glasgow line from February next year, following months of delay.

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He also said a test run of a new 42-minute service between the two cities had successfully taken place earlier this week, ahead of its roll-out in December next year.

Figures for the four-week period from 17 September to 14 October show ScotRail score 88.3 per cent for punctuality and reliability – compared to 90.3 per cent in the same period last year.

Mr Hynes told MSPs: “We had an early autumn – autumn has come about a month earlier than it normally does.

“So you’ve seen more autumn impact in this period, and of course autumn is a hugely challenging period for us operationally, which is why we are spending £3 million on making sure we can operate the trains safely and reliably during autumn.

“But we also had a little bit of bad luck in the period.”

Mr Hynes said “the single biggest incident anywhere across the UK network” saw another operator’s train go through a red light in the Haymarket area of Edinburgh in September, causing issues which disrupted services “for an entire day”.

Cable theft affected the main line in Fife.