First Group, a Scotland based transport company, has been awarded an extension to operate the franchise for Scot Rail until 2015.
The earlier franchise is due to expire on November 9, 2014, and the Scottish government has now granted an extension until March 31, 2015.
The company has been operating Scot Rail since October 2004, and has reported that around 81 million passengers travel on the network every year.
The company chief executive officer, Tim O’Toole, said, ‘We are delighted that the Scottish Government has announced that the ScotRail franchise will continue until March 2015. Everyone at ScotRail has worked tirelessly to deliver excellent service and improvements for customers.
This is an exciting time for the railway in Scotland with new trains, stations and routes introduced since the start of the franchise. Our increasing number of passengers will see additional benefits up to and beyond Scotland’s important year of 2014.
Passenger numbers have reached historic highs with more than 81m people choosing to travel with ScotRail during 2011/12, representing an increase of 30 percent since the start of the franchise in 2004. We have also delivered significant improvements in punctuality and reliability which now stands at 92.3 percent compared to 83 percent when we took over the franchise.’
Scot Rail has launched its new schedule, effective from December 9, 2012, which will include more Sunday trains between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ayr; faster trains on routes connecting Ayrshire and Inverclyde; a new Sunday service between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh through Shotts; more weekdays stops at Portlethen, Laurencekirk, Broughty Ferry and Invergowrie; new early-morning weekday service from Motherwell to Edinburgh, and a late evening return on the same route; and a new weekday service between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh.