ScotRail has offered free train travel to certain customers as they once again apologised for "unacceptable service" in parts of Scotland.

The train company is offering free travel anywhere in Scotland to season ticket holders on the 'worst affected routes' for six weekends over March, April and May. 

ScotRail made the announcement this morning. The homepage of their website simply reads "We're sorry."

The service has come under fire from all directions after more than three weeks of disruption following the introduction of a new winter timetable last month.

HeraldScotland:

Passengers posted their complaints about the issues online.

The train operator had said its new electric and high-speed trains including the environmentally friendly Hitachi Class 385 stock would allow shorter journey times, more seats and more services on updated routes to build "the best railway Scotland has ever had".

But passengers bombarded ScotRail with complaints about skip-stopping and overcrowded trains since the timetable launched, while an estimated average of 80 services were cancelled per day in the first week-and-a-half of ScotRail’s new winter timetable.

Most of the latest disruption that has hit Scots railways since the timetable launch was due to ScotRail staff shortages, with the train operator saying that is partly because many have been undergoing training on the new trains too late to be ready for the timetable launch.

ScotRail said that was partly caused by the late arrival of the new Hitachi Class 385 and high-speed InterCity trains.

Dozens more services were cancelled and the number of carriages cut on dozens more services on Hogmanay and on January 2 and 3 with staffing issues the main cause given again.

That's after ScotRail was told by the Scottish Government to come up with a plan to improve services or face having its contract axed.

HeraldScotland: ScotRail Alliance managing director Alex Hynes

Alex Hynes, managing director of ScotRail Alliance, said: "We are very sorry to ScotRail customers for our unacceptable service in parts of the country recently.

"While our teams work hard every day to deliver the service you demand, the reality is that we’ve fallen below the standard you expect and deserve.

"While it doesn’t excuse what has happened, here are the challenges we have faced:

"Daily services have had to be cancelled to allow our drivers and conductors to be trained on new trains and new routes before they can operate services safely. 

"The late delivery of trains by suppliers, including Hitachi and Wabtec, means there has been very limited time available for driver and conductor training

"An overtime and rest day working ban, now resolved, by the RMT trade union made the training problems worse. 

"We are working flat out to train conductors and drivers on Scotland’s railway so that we can return services to normal. 

"Since 9 December we have trained 70 drivers and conductors, so we have made progress, but we know we need to do more. We are training more than 20 drivers and conductors every day throughout January and February to return your service to levels you deserve.

HeraldScotland:

"We have seen the level of cancellations reduce steadily over the last few weeks. We will continue to cut cancellations to improve your service. We expect week on week improvement through January and February to get your service back to normal levels." 

ScotRail say they are offering those season ticket holders most affected by cancellations extra compensation as a "goodwill gesture" to say sorry to their most loyal customers, and to thank them for their patience.

Season ticket holders, accompanied by one extra person, on routes most affected by traincrew shortages are being offered travel anywhere on ScotRail services for six specified weekends in March, April and May 2019*.

The offer weekends are:

Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March 2019
Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 March 2019
Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April 2019
Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April 2019
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 April 2019
Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May 2019

Mr Hynes added: "We know you deserve better. The entire ScotRail Alliance - a partnership between ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland - is focused on delivering that and we will give you a better service."