Scotland’s railways in the hands of Scotland’s people


Local MSP Stuart McMillan has welcomed the announcement that the SNP Scottish Government is taking over the running of the country’s rail franchise.

ScotRail services will move into public sector control when the current franchise with Abellio expires – expected to happen in March 2022.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson announced that an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the Scottish Government will run rail services.

The Scottish Government’s decision to run our railways through what it known as the ‘Operator of Last Resort’ has been shaped by a number of factors, including faults with the current franchising system, uncertainty from a year-long delay in the UK Government’s rail review, and the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Commenting on the announcement, the local SNP MSP said:

“This bold move by the SNP Scottish Government will bring welcome stability and certainty to those who use our railway for work and leisure, both in Inverclyde and across the country.

“The news that current ScotRail staff will transfer to the new Scottish Government owned company, with their terms and conditions protected, will also provide much-needed security to those who rely on our railways for their livelihoods.

“During this current parliamentary term as Greenock and Inverclyde’s MSP, my office has received regular correspondence from constituents desperate to see improvements to Scotland’s rail network.

“I have been calling for an extra hourly rail service on the Wemyss Bay line, which could be supported by reintroducing a second platform at Port Glasgow Station – as my SNP colleague Councillor Chris Curley is proposing.

“However, the fractured nature of rail policy within the UK makes bold proposals like this challenging to deliver, given that the infrastructure at Port Glasgow is managed by Network Rail, while the rail services themselves are managed by ScotRail.  

“The SNP have long argued that the future structure of Scottish railways should be in Scotland’s hands. It is well beyond time that the Tory UK Government listened and devolved rail powers to Holyrood – so decisions can be taken with all the full levels of power at our disposal to deliver the rail system we all want to see in Scotland.  

“Nevertheless, this move announced today by the Transport Secretary is both bold and welcome and will ensure Scotland’s rail users are provided with the well-run and reliable and service we rightly expect.”

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