Rail franchises operators & contracts

12.11.18

Labour call for renationalisation ahead of Scottish Parliament vote on ScotRail contract

Scotland’s government is set to vote on the future of ScotRail’s train services amidst calls from Labour to renationalise the franchise.

MSPs are due to vote on Wednesday on whether the government should enforce a break clause in the contract with Dutch train operator Abellio, who own ScotRail, in 2020 which would end the current franchise in 2022.

It was confirmed by ministers in August that public sector bidders will be allowed to compete for the ScotRail franchise, and the government has been urged by Labour to bring the franchise back under national ownership.

Scottish Labour has now called for the SNP-controlled Scottish Parliament to set a date to end ScotRail’s franchise due to a catalogue of late trains, overcrowded services and overpriced fairs.

The Scottish Government has previously defended ScotRail’s performance levels, insisting that many of the delays are out of the operator’s control and are instead due to Network Rail engineering works over-running.

But under Abellio’s agreement with the Scottish Government, the SNP can exercise an opportunity in 2020 to end the franchise by 2022 after Labour pushed the government into a vote.

ScotRail missed 15 out of 38 targets between April and June, according to a service quality report, and was fined £2.2m for its performance in the first six months of the year.

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Colin Smyth criticised the contract, saying that “passengers across Scotland deserve better than this failing ScotRail franchise.”

 “These fines are not worth the paper they are written on, with privately-run ScotRail funded by the taxpayer through subsidies in the first place.”

He continued: “It’s time to hit the brakes on privatisation and bring our railways back into public ownership.

“The SNP claimed that the Abellio contract would be a world leading deal – instead the government has shifted the goal posts on targets and given the franchise a licence to fail.

Back in August, ScotRail Alliance sustainability and safety assurance director said “we know there is a lot of work still to be done” and that there is clear progress being made.

Image credit - georgeclerk

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