A UNION has criticised ScotRail's service as "now beyond a joke" after passengers complained of fainting and panic attacks through overcrowded trains during and after the launch of Six Nations rugby in Edinburgh.

Transport staff union TSSA which compiled issues to services between the Central Belt, Inverness and Aberdeen also referred to children sitting on the floor outside toilets, OAPs having to stand for hours and adults crying.

It comes as ScotRail continued to cut the number of carriages on over 70 services on Monday, primarily due to a shortage of train crew.

ScotRail has previously said that the majority of 'short formation' trains were down to trains being used for staff training.


Some users criticised ScotRail for using a picture of Hampden instead of Murrayfield 

Most of the disruption that has hit Scots railways since the timetable launch in December 9 was due to ScotRail staff shortages, and the train operator said 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.

READ MORE: 'An absolute shambles' - no end in sight as ScotRail trains chaos hits new high

The train operator says the lag in staff training was made worse as a result of RMT industrial action over a pay dispute that lasted several weeks, and was resolved over in December.

ScotRail has till February 19 to submit a plan to address falling performance levels which if unsuccessful could result in a breach of contract and lead to Abellio losing the ScotRail franchise early. 

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said of the latest complaints: “ScotRail’s service is now beyond a joke. Passengers should be able to buy a ticket and know they can expect a seat for a four-and -a-half-hour journey from Edinburgh to Inverness.  But there’s a reason passengers are now referring to the nation’s railway as “ScotFail.”

“You don’t need to be a rugby fanatic to be aware of the Six Nations. The date’s been in the diary for months and Abellio ScotRail should have arranged extra trains to support fans wishing to travel to the match. Instead even pensioners were forced to stand, whilst children sat on the floor by the toilets.

Nicola Sturgeon should be hauling Abellio and Matheson over the coals for their failures this and every weekend."

A ScotRail spokesman said: “The Six Nations always draw a big crowd, and to help meet the demand we added more seats for travelling fans.

“We know one of the biggest concerns is busy trains, and although we can’t add extra carriages to every train, all available trains were in use and our customer got where they needed to be.”

The 10-year franchise deal with Abellio for the ScotRail franchise awarded in 2015 allows the contract to be terminated early in 2020, if there was a performance default in three consecutive months.

READ MORE: Fifth day of ScotRail customer disruption hits new timetable high with more problems for flagship new trains

The train operator run by Dutch transport company Abellio, 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".

At the end of November it emerged that Network Rail Scotland is being probed by the transport regulator as it emerged that it is responsible for two in three of the delays which has seen ScotRail forced to settle 65,000 successful claims from passengers in nine months.