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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Rail firm pledges better service
ScotRail sprinter at Waverley
FirstGroup will take over the franchise in October
Scotland's new rail operator has promised more reliable train services and higher standards of performance.

The pledge came from transport company, FirstGroup, after the Strategic Rail Authority confirmed that it had secured the franchise in a 1.9bn deal.

The First ScotRail franchise begins in October and will run for seven years.

FirstGroup said customers would see improved punctuality, reliability, and increased passenger capacity, with the introduction of almost 30 new trains.

Reduce overcrowding

There are also plans to reduce overcrowding so that no-one should have to wait more than 10 minutes for a seat.

FirstGroup said there would be no cuts to current services and pledged a 40m improvement package.

Mary Dickson, managing director of First in Scotland, said: "We have an investment programme of 40m to improve a number of stations. At all stations we will be upgrading help-points, customer service information and CCTV.

"There are a number of new trains coming into service.

There will be tougher performance standards and tougher penalties in this new franchise and all that will be good news for rail passengers in Scotland
Nicol Stephen
Transport Minister

"We are looking at strengthening trains for peak commuter services and clearly issues around cleanliness and quality of information provision."

Transport Minister Nicol Stephen said that railways across the UK had experienced difficulties over recent years.

He said: "Scotrail has, in fact, been one of the better performing franchises, but really we want to up the standard.

"We want a reliable service; a more customer-friendly service. That's what this investment in Scotland is going to be all about.

"We are determined to ensure better performance. There will be tougher performance standards and tougher penalties in this new franchise and all that will be good news for rail passengers in Scotland."

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