RAIL campaigners have condemned the practice of ‘stop-skipping’ across Scotland after it emerged operators are failing to pull into stations up to 20 times per day.

They claim there is “never any justification” for missing out stations and leaving commuters late for work, for picking up children and unable to catch connecting trains.

Meanwhile, MSPs have hit out at rail bosses for attempting to conceal the details from the public.

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Transport minister Humza Yousaf said unscheduled fly-bys had been reduced in 2017, until poor weather hit, and described the operator’s performance as “simply not good enough”.

Last week, he told MSPs that 0.78 per cent of ScotRail services in 2017 had skipped stations – equating to 20 of its 2,500 trains a day. The latest figures represent an increase from 0.6 per cent in 2016-17 and 0.4 per cent in 2011-12.

Allison Cosgrove, chair of Railfuture Scotland, told the Herald: “Stop-skipping is really annoying to people – there is never any justification for it.

“If you get on a train, then you should expect to get off at the stop you want. And not being told [your stop is being skipped] before getting on is completely unhelpful.”

Mrs Cosgrove said that while stop-skipping remains an issue across the rail network, the frustration born from overcrowding is also prominent.

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She added: “I sometimes feel there is too much of an emphasis on absolute punctuality. I don’t think passengers on some routes would mind if their train was a few minutes late. What they want is a seat.

“Overcrowding is an issue; we have some longer six-carriage trains on our line now, but on some occasions not everyone who is looking to get on the train at Musselburgh can get on.

“That said, it is not always helpful to complain all the time and I believe journey times where people have to stand in Scotland is less than in England. We also recently met with Alex Hynes [ScotRail’s new managing director] and he struck me as a chap determined to do better.”

The Scotsman on Sunday claimed ScotRail failed to release data on stop-skipping, despite numerous requests.

Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie, told the paper: “It seems there is an increasing problem of commuters being abandoned as ScotRail services fail to stop at their stations.

“The rail network will always experience delays and cancellations, but stop-skipping is entirely avoidable with the right investment and planning. It’s not something ScotRail should be keeping from the media.”

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Last Thursday at Holyrood, Labour’s Alex Rowley asked the transport minister to consider taking the railways back into public ownership, amid ongoing concerns on the Fife circle route.

He told the chamber: “I am sure that he understands how frustrating it is when someone who is standing on a platform, waiting for the train to come, sees the train going right past them.

“People can be left waiting for an hour, which results in their being late for work...Masses of rail users in Fife are horrified at the service that they are getting.

“People have been patient, but they have waited long enough. We need action.

“Will the minister consider taking the railways back into public ownership so that the profits can be invested in the railways and we can address the unacceptable situations that occur on the Fife circle rail route?

While Mr Yousaf did not answer the query directly, he did remind the opposition that it was the SNP who first allowed public sector bidding for the ScotRail contract.

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When pressed by Green MSP Mark Ruskell on fining ScotRail for stop-skipping, the minister added: “When I became the transport minister, I told ScotRail that I expected it to minimise the skipping of stops, particularly during peak hours.

“That has happened, but it is clear that the autumn and winter months have been challenging for ScotRail, and that is unwelcome.”

ScotRail said stop-skipping is employed during periods of “severe disruption” only.

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A spokesman said: “It is a measure that, in these extreme situations, is used to try and minimise the impact on the whole network – namely a certain train misses out scheduled stops, then it allows a number of trains to avoid being delayed and to run to time. This means that fewer customers, overall, face disruption to their journey.

“Missing out stations is never done to meet targets. If a train fails to stop at a scheduled station then it automatically fails to meet our very challenging targets.”