LOSS-MAKING ScotRail has been accused of cutting back on toilet paper and soap on its trains by its main union.

Workers say the train giant is pinching – rather than spending – pennies across its trains and stations in a desperate attempt to break even.

The RMT, which represents rail staff, claims such savings even include essentials for toilets, which will be closed more frequently on trains as a result.

ScotRail has refused to comment on the allegations but insists its toilets on trains and stations have been deemed satisfactory by independent inspectors.

Concerns about paper and soap for public conveniences come amid

a dramatic attempt to strip current ScotRail owner Abellio of its franchise.

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The RMT wants Abellio, a subsidiary of Dutch national railways, to “hand back the keys” to ScotRail and earlier this month Scottish Labour tried in Holyrood to force the firm to do so.

RMT Organiser Mick Hogg said: “Abellio has been told to tighten its belt. Staff have had enough, of not having toilet rolls and soap, of not having stationery, of uniforms not being replaced.

We have been told not to authorise overtime. Abellio is skint and it is time for it to hand the keys back.

“The firm has had loans after loans and been given chance after chance.”

The company running the franchise is called Abellio Scotland Ltd. It is due to make its financial results for 2018 shortly.

Official figures for previous years show the company being propped up by loans from its Dutch parent. Ultimately, Scottish trains are subsidised by taxpayers in the Netherlands.

Private train operators – whose margins are very thin – often make losses in the early stages of their franchise period before getting a return on their investment at the end.

The Scottish Government, however, has given the company official warnings on its performance.

As The Herald revealed in August, passengers made nearly million fewer journeys by ScotRail last year, figures reveal.

The operator was rocked by a historic cold spell and major engineering disruption. But the reduction marked the end of a period of rapid expansion in passenger numbers and denied it vital revenue.

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RMT is in dispute with ScotRail. Mr Hogg said cost-cutting would hurt the passenger experience.

He said: “The toilets on the trains are crucial. Passengers need to be put first. In all my years I have never come across such an outfit.”

One battleground between the union and the company is staffed counters at stations.

Mr Hogg said: “The travel shops are another good example. The firm wants us to be automated. However, we think the most vulnerable passengers want to see a person,

not a machine.”

ScotRail admitted some problems, including with uniforms, but said its toilets were passing the inspection regime put in place by quango Transport Scotland.

A spokesman said: “The Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE) is used to assess facilities on trains and at stations. Toilets on trains are part of that and we are held to account if they do not meet the high standards – with fines imposed for any failures. This extends to a lack of provision of any of the other aspects of on-train cleanliness, which would include a lack of toilet paper and/or soap. We have had six consecutive periods of improvement in relation to SQUIRE.

“We know how important the cleanliness of our trains is to our customers, particularly the toilets on board, and that is why we place a high priority on making sure they are regularly maintained.”