RAIL passengers misery has been laid bare after ScotRail has received record fines for failing to meet required standards for the running of the nation’s trains and stations.

The firm has clocked up £3 million in financial penalties over the first nine months of this financial year for its failings, having posted a £3.5m after-tax loss for 2016.

That is double the financial penalties imposed on them for the whole of the previous year.

The ScotRail report card shows Abellio which runs the franchise failed to reach the required standards in service to the public in 26 benchmarking areas out of 34.

The Herald: Hitachi Rail Europe signs contract with Abellio to provide new trains for Scotrail franchise Edinburgh, 12 March, 2015 - Hitachi Rail Europe and Abellio are delighted to announce today that they have signed a contract for the provision and maintenance of

It comes as Abellio, an offshoot of Dutch national railways, came under fresh criticism after failing to meet punctuality targets for the fifth month in a row with 90.1 per cent of trains arriving on time in the moving annual average.

The report card covering the last three months of last year showed the Dutch operator failed to hit key targets in areas including train and station toilets, litter and cleanliness, ticket machines, train seats and on-train information.

Herald View: ScotRail still far off from the destination of a better service

The development comes as union chiefs aim for talks with Scotrail management after threatening strike action over the axing of a health and safety department which they say will put passengers and staff at risk.

Jackie Baillie MSP, a former interim Scottish Labour Party leader has said she aims to hold a meeting with ScotRail managing director Alex Hynes to raise concerns of station-skipping of local rail services and the impact it has on passengers.  It comes after it emerged that the number of ScotRail trains skipping stops has increased to as many as 20 a day.

Last week ScotRail  made an apology after being forced to cut the number of carriages on some Glasgow to Edinburgh trains by half - leading to fears of passenger overcrowding.

The Herald: The New Abellio ScotRail franchise was launched by Abellio chief executive Jeff Hoogesteger and Transport Minister Derek Mackay MSP in April

The latest three-monthly performance figures show that fines against Abellio have topped £1 million record (£1.228 million) for the first time in recent years.

In its full final year of running the previous ScotRail franchise, First was fined £576,000 (2014/15) under the performance regime.

But official data reveals that Abellio's penalties are currently more than five times that with three months still to three months of the financial year to go.

Abellio has now racked up nearly £5.75 million in penalties since it took over from First. 

Herald View: ScotRail still far off from the destination of a better service

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf is known to be preparing a public-sector bid to take over Scotland’s railways, with a possible switch in 2022.

Liz Warren-Corney of the transport union TSSA Scotland was concerned about the effect of the failures on passengers and said the transport minister Humza Yousaf "needs to find his backbone" and bring ScotRail back into public ownership now.”

The Herald: Transport Minister Humza Yousaf at Edinburgh Waverley station where he made an announcement on upgrades to the ScotRail fleet. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 29, 2016. See PA story SCOTLAND Rail Yousaf. Photo credit should read: J

She said: “Since Abellio took over ScotRail has lurched from crisis to crisis. They failed to achieve their franchise obligations and are now be on their second improvement plan.

"We’ve seen them play fast and loose with passenger safety, attacking their own CCTV operations and doing away with their station Health and Safety department.

"And already in 2018, ScotRail has been humiliated after ordering trains to skip stations in order to achieve punctuality targets. No wonder passenger satisfaction levels have plummeted. How much longer will Abellio be allowed to take Scottish passengers for a ride?

“ScotRail’s problems all stem from the Tories’ broken franchising system. Once and for all we need to stop privateers leeching money from our rail network."

The franchise was awarded in 2015 in a 10-year deal worth up to £10 billion and runs until 2025. Ministers, however, are considering a public sector bid.

In 2016/17, Abellio received £1.5 million in fines after receiving £1.24 million in financial penalties in the first nine months of operating franchise.

Herald View: ScotRail still far off from the destination of a better service

Penalties and rewards are handed out by Scottish Government quango Transport Scotland using the Service Quality Incentive Regime (Squire) to judge operators’ performance.  Money from the Squire fund is ploughed back into railways but unions have claimed a cost-cutting drive could hit standards.

The operator got an overall performance score of 89.58 per cent in the last three months of last year against a required benchmark of 93.12 per cent.

Last month the operator drafted in railway consultant Nick Donovan to carry out an independent review its performance.

The Herald:

With the support of a petition signed by more than 22,000 people, Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of  TSSA who has previously called on the minister to take "the bold political decision" for full nationalisation of ScotRail without recourse to any bidding "preferably by using a break clause in 2019".

Transport Scotland inspectors audit 353 stations and approximately 200 trains every four weeks. Service areas inspected range from toilets and timetables to train cleanliness, graffiti, staff service, ticket officers and the public address system.

Herald View: ScotRail still far off from the destination of a better service

A Scotrail spokesman said:  "We've signed up to the toughest service quality regime in the UK - and it is right that we have. It means that standards are driven ever higher and customers get a better service.

"These are not fines. It is a reinvestment fund. Every penny raised through squire gets put back into Scotland's railway."