Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Oban passengers want trains, not buses.
Back in 2015, I was returning home from the Skerryvore Decade festival in Oban by train. Attempting to board the train at Oban, I was lucky that I had pre-booked tickets because the train was full, and rather than adding additional coaches to the train, Scotrail had provided a replacement bus service for walk-up passengers. This would seem rather unfair to people who, having paid for a train, were given a bus instead. Having witnessed this, I feel some sympathy for anyone taking the Caledonian Sleeper to Crianlarich with the intention of travelling to Oban. The first train to Oban in the morning leaves Crianlarich at 0718, to arrive in Oban at 0835. The Caledonian Sleeper from London to Fort William stops at Crianlarich at 0745, just missing the Scotrail train. the next train to Oban isn't until 1015, so to ensure that their passengers aren't left waiting in Crianlarich for two and a half hours, those nice people at Serco have laid on a bus to get their passengers to Oban. Now if I was a train passenger, I would be rather miffed at being shoved onto a bus when there is a perfectly good railway there. This sort of thing would probably be avoided if the sleeper was still part of the Scotrail franchise, or if the whole lot was nationalised, but now the two trains are operated by separate companies, who have no obligation to connect to each other's services. Hopefully, with the electrification of the Shotts line coming next year, more class 156s will be released to increase frequency on the rural routes, such as Oban, Stranraer and Dumfries. There are also suggestions that Caledonian Sleeper could start providing a direct portion to Oban themselves. A direct Oban sleeper was trialled in February last year when the route to Fort William was closed for engineering work.