ABELLIO'S ScotRail journey has come to a halt as ministers strip the Dutch state-owned operator of the Scottish railway franchise.

The 2014 decision to award Abellio the contract for the nation's railways was met with controversy, with many questioning why Scottish travellers – and the Scots taxpayer, through government subsidies – should boost the Dutch public transport system.

The wheels threatened to come off early when punctuality and reliability figures plummeted, triggering a petition to Transport Scotland in 2016.

Overcrowding and industrial disputes have also marred services and made the ScotRail social media team one of the busiest in the country as commuters make complaints and seek clarity on shuttles.

Some critics renamed the service “ScotFail”.

Now Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has confirmed that the Abellio ScotRail contract will end early.

The decision comes after ministers decided not to increase the level of subsidy provided to Abellio, because this would "not secure delivery of commensurate benefits to passengers, communities and the economy".

Abellio is expected to exit the contract in March 2022.

Matheson said: “Our rail network is of significant social, economic and environmental value to the people of Scotland, and Ministers must ensure that the services we secure are high performing, financially sustainable and offer value for money.

“We currently provide around two thirds of the running costs for our railway and it is essential that this is sustainable going forward. Our record investment in rail is already delivering more seats, more trains and more stations.

“Any changes to the level of subsidy paid by the government must deliver new benefits for passengers and taxpayers and whilst there have been improvements in recent years, the proposed changes were not sufficient to justify additional subsidy.

“Of course, the Scottish Government must plan for the future of our rail services, beyond 2022 and work is already underway to examine the options open to us in this regard."

Ministers issued ScotRail with its second improvement notice in less than two months in September after passenger satisfaction plunged to its lowest level in 15 years.

Matheson added: “Longer term, this Government has already made clear its position that the current franchising regime, which is a matter reserved to the UK government, has failed and it is widely accepted that the rail industry, as a whole, must embrace reform.

“The best way to deliver this is through the transfer of all rail powers, which would allow us to work together to find the right solution for our railways in future – properly integrated and fully aligned with the public interest and Scottish Government policy.”

The rail industry is currently awaiting the outcome of the Williams Rail Review which is led by the UK Government.

LibDem Mike Rumbles commented: “Passengers are sick to the back teeth of the poor service that has been provided by this company. Overcrowding, endless cancellations, stop skipping and delays have gone on too long.

“The government must now take action to make sure that there is stronger protection for customers in the future franchise agreement. They also need to look carefully at including more break points in the new contract to ensure there is a much better chance to correct poor performance earlier on. The Transport Secretary cannot repeat the same mistakes.”