16 March 2021
RMT Press Office:
RMT calls on the Scottish Government to stop the excuses and commit to taking ScotRail into public ownership.
Ahead of a statement in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday at which the Scottish Government is expected to set out its plans for the ScotRail franchise when the Abellio contract ends in March 2022, Rail Union RMT is reiterating its calls for the Scottish Government to utilise its existing powers and take Scotland’s rail passenger services into public ownership.
Earlier this week, the Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson stated the Scottish Government’s intention to extend Abellio ScotRail’s Covid Emergency Measures Agreement until March 2022 when the current franchise expires, and said it was ‘looking at several different options’ post March 2022.
RMT believes that the only plausible option is for the Scottish Government to take its rail passenger services into public ownership, something it is able to do under current legislation. This is the only way to create an affordable, accessible, and sustainable rail network for Scotland.
Prior to the pandemic, the Abellio ScotRail franchise was providing neither value for money nor an acceptable service for Scotland’s taxpayers and passengers. The Scottish Government initiated a break clause in the franchise due to spiralling costs. It would therefore be completely illogical if the Scottish Government sought to extend the Abellio franchise post March 2022.
In its statement in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow, the Scottish Government must unequivocally rule out extending the Dutch state owned Abellio’s ScotRail contract past March 2022, and instead commit to utilising its existing powers to take the ScotRail franchise into public ownership once and for all.
General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Scotland’s railway has a key role to play in a green recovery from Covid-19 and it is absolutely vital that the rail network is reliable, accessible and provides good value for money for Scottish taxpayers and passengers. This can only be delivered through public ownership of Scotland’s rail passenger services.
“The Scottish Government already has the powers it needs to take its rail passenger services into public ownership, yet it keeps finding excuses not to do so.
“As the Welsh Government has already shown, the delayed publication of the UK Government’s Williams Review does not prevent the Scottish Government using its existing powers to take its rail passenger services into public ownership.
“In its statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, RMT is demanding that the Scottish Government explicitly rules out extending the Abellio ScotRail contract past March 2022, and instead sets out how it will take Scotland’s rail passenger services into public ownership.”