1 April 2022
RMT Press Office:
As ScotRail is renationalised, RMT calls for the Scottish Government to bring the Caledonian Sleeper into public ownership as internal Scottish Government documents show this could be done in just twelve weeks.
On the day the ScotRail franchise enters public ownership, rail union RMT has repeated its demands for Caledonian Sleeper to be brought into public ownership as part of an integrated Scottish rail passenger network. These demands come as RMT reveals that internal Scottish Government documents show that not only does it already have the structures in place to run Caledonian Sleeper in the public sector, these arrangements could be mobilised in just twelve weeks.
When the Scottish Government announced in March 2021 that the ScotRail franchise would be renationalised, RMT responded with a call for the Caledonian Sleeper franchise to also be brought into public ownership. RMT has continued to press the Scottish Government about its plans for the Caledonian Sleeper franchise over the last year, with the Scottish Government finally announcing in March 2022 that it had handed private operator Serco another year’s contract under which the Scottish Government continues to take on cost and revenue risk and Serco can earn a fee, funded from public money.
Yet, these documents, published in response to an FOI request, prove that the Scottish Government has had it within its capacity to bring Caledonian Sleeper into public ownership at the same time as ScotRail, but nonsensically it has failed to do so, despite it admitting that Serco Caledonian Sleeper is not in a ‘stable financial position’.
RMT is therefore demanding to know why the Scottish Government has failed to utilise these arrangements and has instead given private outsourcing giant Serco another year to run the Caledonian Sleeper for fees.
RMT estimates that private operator Serco Caledonian Sleeper has already made nearly £2m in fees under its Covid-19 Emergency Measures Agreements and believes it would provide far better value for public money and stability if these rail services were run in the public sector, with all revenue reinvested in improving the network.
RMT is therefore demanding that the Scottish Government take Caledonian Sleeper into public ownership as a matter of urgency.
General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“When the Scottish Government announced last March that it was bringing ScotRail into public ownership, RMT immediately called for it to do the same for the Caledonian Sleeper and reintegrate it with ScotRail, which it should never have split it from in the first place.
A year later we find out that instead of bringing the Caledonian Sleeper back into a publicly owned and integrated Scottish rail operator the Scottish Government has, inexplicably, handed private operator Serco another year’s contract under which it can be paid fees, funded from public money.
Yet, shockingly, internal documents confirm that not only does the Scottish Government have the necessary structures in place to bring the Caledonian Sleeper into public ownership, it would only take around 12 weeks to do so.
RMT is demanding that the Scottish Government cut ties with Serco and deploys the necessary arrangements to bring the Caledonian Sleeper into public ownership as a matter of urgency. This is the best way to provide value for money and stability for Scottish passengers and taxpayers and ensure that all revenue is reinvested in improving the network, rather than being paid out in fees to private operator Serco.”
Notes for editors:
The announcement regarding Serco Caledonian Sleeper’s Temporary Measures Agreement is here - https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/ministerial-statement-additional-funding-support-for-rail-services/
The FOI request is here - https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/foi-eir-release/2022/03/foi-202200270246/documents/foi---202200270246---information-released---appendix-a-and-b/foi---202200270246---information-released---appendix-a-and-b/govscot%3Adocument/FOI%2B-%2B202200270246%2B-%2BInformation%2BReleased%2B-%2BAppendix%2BA%2Band%2BB.pdf
Page 2 states:
“7. Transport Scotland has had OLR contingency plans covering both the Scotrail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises in place for some time. This is to ensure compliance with the duty in section 30 of the 1993 Act to secure the continued provision of rail services where a franchise agreement is terminated or comes to an end but no further franchise agreement has been entered into. Those OLR arrangements can be deployed in around 12 weeks in an emergency, e.g. where a franchise fails and comes to an end early.”
The fees paid to Serco from March – September 2020 and September 2020 – March 2021 are available here - https://www.transport.gov.scot/public-transport/rail/caledonian-sleeper-franchise/
Based on the fees paid for the six months to March 2021, RMT estimates that between March 2020 – March 2022 Caledonian Sleeper stands to have received C£1.8m in fees under its Emergency Measures Agreements.