SCOTS ministers have forked out £3m of taxpayers money to private consultants for advice on how to run nationalised ScotRail.

Transport Scotland has given the contract to London-based global professional services firm Arup for “technical advisory services”.

It comes after it emerged that delayed trains have cost ScotRail more than £100,000 in repayments since the service was nationalised in April.

Figures revealed through a series of freedom of information requests show 7,770 claims were paid out to travellers who had experienced disruption between April and May.

The rail service, which was nationalised by the Scottish Government in April, has forked out a total of £107,439.49 in the two months.

Travellers have been hit by weeks of disruption as ScotRail cut hundreds of services amid a pay dispute between rail unions and employers.

The £3m will be used to provide "rail technical consultancy services" to support Transport Scotland’s Operator of Last Resort function.

According to the contract specialist technical support is required to carry out "contingency planning work, due diligence and/or shadow mobilisations of train operating companies (TOC) where they are either negotiating a new direct award or the decision has been taken to move a TOC into the public sector".

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It comes as ScotRail confirmed it is spending around £1m per year on the salaries of its seven top executives.

The nationalised firm’s most highly paid executive is Chief Operating Officer Joanne Maguire, who earns between £175,000 and £180,000 per year.

Interim finance director James Griffin is paid between £170,000 and £175,000 per year, while safety director David Lister earns between £150,000 and £155,000.

Service delivery director David Simpson has a salary of between £135,000 and £140,000 , while commercial director Lesley Kane is paid between £130,000 and £135,000.

Interim HR director Marie-Therese Weighton and interim communications director David Ross are both paid between £115,000 and £120,000.

The figures, published by ScotRail on its website, also show that while none of the executives receive a bonus, Mr Lister, Mr Simpson and Ms Kane are all given a £7,500 car allowance.

Taken together, the salaries of the seven top executives add up to between £990,000 and £1,025,000 per year.

The highest paid rail executive in Scotland is Alex Hynes, the joint managing director of ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland. He earns up to £335,000, but this is paid by Network Rail.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed the nationalisation of ScotRail as a “historic and momentous occasion” when it went into public hands on April 1.

ScotRail is now run by a company owned by the Scottish Government after the previous operator, Dutch state transport firm Abellio, had its franchise ended early amid criticism of the quality of the service.

A disastrous 2018 winter timetable and the introduction of high-speed trains ushered in months of cancellations and disruption to services with much of it put down to staff shortages partly due to training to deal with the new trains and timetable.

Last month it was confirmed Abellio is cashing in on continued contracts to support crippled train services.

ScotRail has admitted that Abellio still has undisclosed contracts to support services post-nationalisation through deals that will run for up to three years and estimated to be worth millions.

A contract to run a customer service phone line and provide ­ payroll services is expected to run until 2025.

And further deals for replacement bus and taxi services, as well as buses between Glasgow Central, Queen Street and Buchanan Street Bus Station are due to last till 2023.

The contracts also involve the management of station tenancies.