Time to end rail franchising and put passengers first

Iain Gray MSP is backing a transport union’s call for the Scottish Government to follow the Welsh Government’s example and renationalise rail services.

Responding to the Scottish Government consultation exercise on the future of the Abellio ScotRail franchise, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has demanded that Ministers explain their reluctance to follow the Welsh Government and renationalise rail services now, as passenger numbers tumble.

In the response, TSSA General secretary Manuel Cortes said, “No private operator is going to be able to turn a profit from ticket sales alone so the only incentive to private operators would be the subsidy from the public purse.”

Scottish Labour has said more public subsidy for private rail firms – including handing out hefty management fees – is unacceptable and that the Scottish Government should follow the Welsh Government’s lead, end the current Abellio ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises, and bring both under public ownership and control.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Before the pandemic, rail passengers in East Lothian faced constant delays, cancellations, overcrowding and price hikes – not the world-leading service we were promised by the SNP.

“It’s clear from the Scottish Government’s budget for the year ahead that the SNP plans to prop up private rail firms with taxpayers’ money for some time to come.  

“There is growing support for a publicly-owned and run rail system that puts passengers first, not the profits of private rail firms. Now is absolutely the right time for the SNP to kick the franchise system into touch and renationalise our rail services.”