First ScotRail

First ScotRail
Franchise(s): ScotRail
17 October 2004 31 March 2015
Main Region(s): Scotland
Other Region(s): North West England
North East England
Fleet size: 311
Stations operated: 344
Route km operated: 3032.0
National Rail abbreviation: SR
Parent company: FirstGroup
Website: []

First ScotRail[1] was a train operating company in Scotland owned by FirstGroup which operated the ScotRail franchise from October 2004 until March 2015. Prior to October 2004 trains were run by ScotRail (National Express). It was succeeded by Abellio ScotRail in March 2015.

It operated most commuter and long-distance services within the country as well as some cross-border services to England, including the Caledonian Sleeper. Of FirstGroup's four train operating companies, ScotRail was the second largest (in terms of number of passenger journeys 201314) after First Great Western at the time of closure.[2]


First ScotRail logo (2004-2008)

National Express operated the ScotRail franchise from March 1997 until October 2004 as ScotRail.

In July 2003, the Scottish Executive and the Strategic Rail Authority announced Arriva, FirstGroup and National Express had been shortlisted to bid for the new franchise.[3] In June 2004, the franchise was awarded to FirstGroup, with the services operated by ScotRail transferring to First ScotRail on 17 October 2004.[4]

On 1 January 2006, Transport Scotland was created to carry out the Scottish Executive's transport responsibilities including its then newly devolved powers over rail franchising.[5]

In April 2008, Transport Scotland granted First ScotRail a three-year franchise extension until November 2014.[6][7]

In September 2008, Transport Scotland announced that all First ScotRail trains, including those previously operated on behalf of the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, would be repainted in a new blue livery with white saltire markings on the carriage ends.[8] The rebranding put less emphasis on the First and is marketed as "ScotRail: Scotland's Railway".[9] The first unit to receive the new livery was 170434, unveiled at Glasgow Queen Street on 22 September 2008.

On 8 October 2014, First ScotRail confirmed its bid to retain the franchise had been unsuccessful and that the franchise transferred to Abellio ScotRail on 1 April 2015.[10][11][12]

On the evening of 31 March 2015, the Caledonian Sleeper services were split into a new franchise, operated by Serco.


Main lines

Map of the principal railway lines of Scotland; First ScotRail's former services are indicated in red , these have now passed unchanged to Abellio
Northbound Class 170 approaching the Forth Bridge on the Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line

Express trains operated between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen. The Highland Main Line links Inverness to the south. Some stretches of main line, such as the Highland Main Line, are single track, and express trains must call at intermediate stations to permit trains coming in the opposite direction to pass.

The main lines of Scotland are:


The densest part of the network was the suburban network around Glasgow, with 183 stations, the second-largest suburban rail network in the UK, after London. Much of it is 25 kV AC electrified. Glasgow’s main terminal stations are Central and Queen Street stations. ScotRail operated trains in this area under the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) brand. However, the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport no longer has any input into specifying rail services in the Glasgow area. DMUs and EMUs that are liveried in the carmine and cream livery are being stripped of the Strathclyde logos.[13] Lines in and around Glasgow were:

The North Clyde Line is now linked to the Edinburgh-Bathgate Line (see Edinburgh, below) with the completion of the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link, creating a new direct link between Glasgow and Edinburgh. There is also a proposal to create a new rail link across the city with the Crossrail Glasgow project.


The Forth Bridge in 2004

Edinburgh’s suburban network is less dense than Glasgow’s. Edinburgh’s main station is Waverley. The main railway line through the city centre runs in a cutting immediately below Edinburgh Castle. A secondary station is at Haymarket in the west of the city. Railway lines running north from Edinburgh to Fife and the Highlands cross the Firth of Forth via the Forth Bridge. Lines in and around Edinburgh were:

The Edinburgh rail network is being expanded with the construction of the Waverley Line to the Borders, and the Edinburgh-Bathgate Line has been extended by the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link. A project to open a rail link to Edinburgh Airport was cancelled in September 2007 by the Scottish Government in favour of construction of a station at nearby Gogar which will connect with the Edinburgh tram network to take passengers to the terminal.[15] A proposal to re-open the Edinburgh suburban railway line has been made by campaigning groups.[16]

Rural lines

Class 170 Turbostar in First ScotRail livery at Inverness

Rural lines include the scenic West Highland Line, Kyle Line and Far North Line. These lines carried more passengers, mostly tourists, during the summer months, but provided a valuable link and social service during the winter months.

Many rural lines are single track. Trains terminating at the coastal towns of Oban and Mallaig connected with the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services to Skye, Colonsay, Lismore, Islay and the Outer Hebrides and Inner Hebrides.

The rural lines were:

InterCity & Sleeper services

Main article: Caledonian Sleeper

First ScotRail operated some services that ventured south of the border: principally the Caledonian Sleeper to London Euston along the West Coast Main Line, and a three times daily cross-country service between Newcastle upon Tyne and Glasgow Central via Carlisle and Kilmarnock.


Performance figures for National Express’s last quarter as franchise holder, July to September 2004, were:

Period% trains arriving within 5 mins of scheduled timeChange
Jul - Sep 200482.8%Down 4.2% on the same quarter the previous year
Jul - Sep 200484.2%Down 1.0% on the previous year as a whole

Performance figures for FirstGroup’s first quarter as franchise holder, October to December 2004, were:

Period% trains arriving within 5 mins of scheduled timeChange
Oct - Dec 200479.8%Down 1.9% on the same quarter the previous year
Oct - Dec 200483.7%Down 0.5% on the previous year as a whole

FirstGroup started operating the franchise on 17 October 2004.

The performance figures released by the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) are as follows:

Period% trains arriving within
5 mins of scheduled time
(over three months)
Change over
same quarter the previous year
% trains arriving within
5 mins of scheduled time
Moving Annual Average (MAA)
Change over
previous year as a whole
Apr - Jun 2007[17]91.4%Up 0.8%89.0%Up 0.2%
Jul - Sep 2007[18]93.0%Up 2.2%89.6%Up 0.7%
Oct - Dec 2007[19]87.3%Up 2.8%90.1%Up 0.6%
Jan - Mar 2008[20]90.5%Up 2.0%90.6%Up 0.6%
Apr - Jun 2008[21]93.6%Up 2.4%91.1%Up 0.6%
Jul - Sep 2008[22]92.8%Down 0.2%91.0%Up 0.4%
Oct - Dec 2008[23]86.5%Down 0.9%90.9%Up 0.3%
Jan - Mar 2009[24]89.6%Down 1.0%>90.6%Down 0.3%
Apr - Jun 2009[25]93.0%Down 0.6%90.5%Down 0.1%
Jul - Sep 2009[26]93.5%Up 0.9%90.7%Up 0.2%
Oct - Dec 2009[27]86.7%Up 0.2%90.7%Unchanged
Jan - Mar 2010[28]89.5%Down 0.1%90.7%Unchanged
Jul - Sep 2010[29]94.5%Up 1.1%91.4%Up 0.8%
Oct - Dec 2010[29]78.4%Down 9.6%92.9%Up 2.4%
Jan - Mar 2011[30]89.1%Down 0.0%90.1%Down 0.0%



In June 2009 a report by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport revealed passenger figures from ScotRail contain 7.2 million more passenger journeys than were actually made.[31] Transport Scotland said this gross overestimate did not affect the decision to extend the franchise (the franchise having been extended under controversial conditions in 2008).[32]

In 2014 ScotRail gave a woman only £10 compensation after a suitcase fell on her, breaking her ribs.[33]

Rolling stock

Class 156 in the old National Express ScotRail livery at Oban station in June 2005

First ScotRail inherited a fleet of Class 150, Class 156, Class 158, Class 170, Class 314, Class 318, Class 320 and Class 334s from National Express, as well as Mark 2 carriages and Mark 3 sleepers for use on the Caledonian Sleeper.

First ScotRail contracted EWS to haul the Caledonian Sleeper services. Class 90s were used south of Edinburgh and Glasgow Central with Class 67s used on the portions to Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness. A dedicated pool has been created due to the need to fit cast steel brakes. Three Class 90s were repainted in First ScotRail livery with EWS logos.

First ScotRail took the delivery of the last few Class 170 Turbostars when it took over the franchise.[34] These released the Class 150s for transfer to Arriva Trains Wales in late 2004 / early 2005.[35]

During 2005 the Edinburgh - North Berwick Line services were operated by English Welsh & Scottish Class 90s with former Virgin Trains Mark 3 carriages and a Driving Van Trailer. In late 2005, five Class 322s were transferred from One to replace these.

In 2007, First ScotRail received eight Class 158s from First Great Western, Northern Rail and South West Trains.[36]

From December 2008, ScotRail operated a set of DB Schenker Mark 2 carriages on a peak-hour Fife Circle Line service hauled by a Class 67. A second set was operated for a while.

In July 2008, Transport Scotland funded the acquisition of 22 three-carriage and 16 four-carriage Class 380 Desiros with the first entering service in December 2010. These trains operated Ayrshire and Inverclyde services, adding extra capacity and allowed the cascade of existing stock to the new Glasgow to Edinburgh services via the reopened Airdrie to Bathgate line.[37][38]

Fleet at time of closure

Class Image Type Top speed Number Routes operated Additional notes Built
mph km/h
Class 67 Diesel locomotive 125 200 Hired from DB Schenker Fife Circle Line
Caledonian Sleeper
Class 90 Electric locomotive 110 177 Hired from DB Schenker
(4 required per service night)
Caledonian Sleeper 1987-1990
Class 156 Super Sprinter DMU 75 120 48 West Highland Line
Glasgow South Western Line
Shotts Line
Croy Line
Edinburgh Crossrail
Maryhill Line
Cumbernauld Line
Class 158 Express Sprinter 90 145 48 Glasgow to Edinburgh via Falkirk Line
Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line
Highland Main Line
Croy Line
Aberdeen to Inverness Line
Kyle of Lochalsh Line
Far North Line
Edinburgh Crossrail
Edinburgh to Dunblane Line
Fife Circle Line
Shotts Line
Maryhill Line
Cumbernauld Line
Class 170 Turbostar 100 161 59 Glasgow to Edinburgh via Falkirk Line
Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line
Highland Main Line
Fife Circle Line
Edinburgh Crossrail
Edinburgh to Dunblane Line
Croy Line
Maryhill Line
Cumbernauld Line
Tay Coast Line
4 units transferred to Southern at the end of the franchise 1998-2005
Class 314 EMU 75 121 16 Cathcart Circle Lines
Inverclyde Line
Paisley Canal Line
Class 318 90 145 21 Argyle Line
North Clyde Line
Whifflet Line
Class 320 90 145 22 North Clyde Line
Argyle Line
Whifflet Line
Class 334 Juniper 90 145 40 North Clyde Line
Argyle Line
Class 380 Desiro 100 160 22 (3 carriage)
16 (4 carriage)
Ayrshire Coast Line
Inverclyde Line
Glasgow to Edinburgh via Carstairs Line
North Berwick Line
Paisley Canal Line
Mark 2 carriage Sleeper Seated 100 160 22 Caledonian Sleeper 1969-1974
Mark 3 carriage Sleeper Berth 125 200 53 Caledonian Sleeper 1975-1988


The majority of Scotland’s 340 passenger stations were operated by First ScotRail under Network Rail ownership. Glasgow Prestwick Airport station is owned and operated by the airport, Dunbar is operated by East Coast, and Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central by Network Rail itself. ScotRail operated Lockerbie railway station but none of its services called there.


First ScotRail's fleet was maintained at Edinburgh Haymarket, Glasgow Shields Road, Corkerhill and Inverness depots. In early 2005 the rebuilt Glasgow Eastfield reopened.[39]

End of the franchise

In June 2012, the Scottish Government announced that when the franchise is retendered in 2014, the Caledonian Sleeper services would be transferred to a standalone own franchise,[40][41] which has been operated by Serco since April 2015.[42]

In October 2014, it was announced First had been unsuccessful in its bid to retain the franchise, which was taken over by Abellio ScotRail on 1 April 2015.[43]

Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise, as planned, at midnight on 1 April. Several hours prior to that, during the evening of 31 March, the Caledonian Sleeper services had already been handed over to Serco.

See also


  1. Companies House extract company no SC185018 Archived April 12, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. First ScotRail Limited
  2. FirstGroup plc UK Rail Overview
  3. "Shortlist of ScotRail bidders puts three in the ring". The Herald. 18 October 2016. Retrieved 19 November 2016. Herald Scotland 28 October 2003
  4. FirstGroup clinches Scottish rail franchise Archived April 13, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. The Daily Telegraph 12 June 2004
  5. Transport Scotland Framework Document (PDF), Scottish Executive, December 2005, retrieved 19 November 2016
  6. Scot Rail franchise extension agreed Archived January 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Transport Scotland News 3 April 2008
  7. FirstGroup Plc statement: Extension of First ScotRail Franchise Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. First ScotRail 3 April 2008
  8. ScotRail 25th Anniversary Publicity Materials Archived July 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Transport Scotland
  9. Dalton, Alastair (23 September 2008). "ScotRail marks birthday with Saltire look". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  10. Dutch firms wins ScotRail franchise from FirstGroup Archived April 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. BBC News 8 October 2014
  11. Abellio awarded ScotRail franchise Archived April 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Railway Gazette 8 October 2014
  12. Abellio awarded contract to operate Scotland's National Railway, ScotRail Archived April 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Abellio
  13. Today's Railways Issue 81
  14. 1 2 Airdrie-Bathgate rail link Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "It's £30m down the drain". The Scotsman. Edinburgh: Johnston Publishing. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  16. Capital Rail Action Group website Archived May 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ORR Statistics for Q1 2007/08
  18. ORR Statistics for Q2 2007/08
  19. ORR Statistics for Q3 2007/08
  20. ORR Statistics for Q4 2007/08
  21. Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends, (2008), p. 22
  22. Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends, (2009), p. 5
  23. Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends, (2009), p. 5
  24. Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends, (2009), p. 24
  25. Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends, (2009), p. 5
  26. Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends, (2010), p. 5
  27. "Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends" (PDF). ORR.
  28. "National Rail Trends Chapter 2" (PDF). ORR.
  29. 1 2 "National Rail Trends Chapter 2" (PDF). ORR.
  30. "National Rail Trends 2010-11. Chapter 2" (PDF). ORR.
  31. "Probe call over passenger figures". BBC News. 2009-06-24. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  32. "Rail contract handling defended". BBC News. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  34. Class 170
  35. Class 150
  36. Class 158
  37. New Electric Trains for Scotland's Growing Railways Transport Scotland News 11 July 2008
  38. "Scotland orders Desiro fleet". Railway Gazette International. July 11, 2008.
  39. Eastfield Depot 1904 -1992
  40. £5 billion investment in rail improvement plan Scottish National Party Media Centre 21 June 2012
  41. Barrow, Keith (22 June 2012). "Scottish government sets out rail strategy". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  42. "Serco wins franchise for Caledonian sleeper train service". BBC News. 28 May 2014.
  43. "Dutch firm Abellio wins ScotRail franchise from FirstGroup". BBC News. 8 October 2014.

Media related to First ScotRail at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
ScotRail franchise
Operator of ScotRail franchise
2004 - 2015
Succeeded by
Abellio ScotRail
ScotRail franchise
Succeeded by
Caledonian Sleeper
Caledonian Sleeper franchise
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