It has been announced that Scotland’s railways will be nationalised next year. The ScotRail franchise, currently run by Abellio, will be taken over by the state’s ‘Operator of Last Resort’ when its contract expires in March 2022.
Yesterday Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, announced that the services will be provided within the public sector by an arm’s length company, owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.
Abellio has been running the Scottish rail franchise since 2015 and will be taken over by the state’s operator of last resort in March 2022.
“I have repeatedly stated the current franchising system is no longer fit for purpose,” said Michael.
“It is high time that the UK Government listened to our requests to place the future structure of Scottish’s railways in Scotland’s hands. The simplest way to do this is to devolve rail powers,” he added.
Michael has also announced that work is underway to put in place further Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs) for ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises for the period 1 April until September this year.
This announcement quickly follows the Welsh Government’s decision to take the Wales and Borders rail franchise into public ownership.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have welcomed the announcement. They believe public ownership of ScotRail will deliver significant benefits for Scotland’s rail workers, passengers and taxpayers.
Not only this, but they also believe it will help enable the creation of an affordable, accessible and sustainable rail network that contributes to Scotland’s decarbonisation targets.
We will work closely with Transport Scotland and Network Rail to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator to deliver stability for customers and staff
Alex White, chief operating officer at ScotRail has said concerning the announcement: “Customers can be reassured that we will continue to operate a reliable service for key workers and support the vaccine rollout over the coming months as we prepare for the introduction of the changes announced by the Scottish Government.”
“We will work closely with Transport Scotland and Network Rail to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator to deliver stability for customers and staff,” he continued.