SNP urged to "stop dragging their heels" over public rail bid
Scottish Labour has called on the Scottish government to make progress on replacing the current franchise with Abellio with a system of full public ownership.
It comes after Transport Secretary Michael Matheson used a government initiated question to repeat the news that David MacBrayne Limited has expressed an interest in exploring the possibility of a bid for a Scottish rail franchise contract.
Matheson had said :"David MacBrayne Limited has confirmed its interest in exploring the possibility of a bid for a Scottish rail franchise contract. Indeed, any public sector body that wishes to consider bidding for a rail franchise contract that is let by the Scottish Ministers is able to do so – that is a decision for them. Future Scottish rail franchise competitions will continue to be fair and transparent, giving equal treatment to all bidders whether from the public or private sectors."
Full control over Scottish railway bids have been devolved to under the 'Scottish Government in the Scotland Act 2016', but the SNP has so far been wary of confirming it will make a public sector bid before 2025 when the current franchise is set to expire.
Commenting on the news, Scottish Labour’s Transport spokesperson, Colin Smyth said: “Instead of trying to save the current franchise until 2025 and dragging their heels over a public sector bid, the SNP government should use the growing evidence of poor performance to end the contract sooner rather than later."
“When the SNP handed the franchise to run Scotland’s railways to Abellio, they said it would be a 'world leading' deal, but the reality for Scotland’s hard-pressed passengers has been anything but with hikes in fares, overcrowding, delays and stop skipping."
“Under Labour’s plans franchising would be scrapped and our railways would be brought under full public ownership, so we have a railway system for the many, not the few."
“Only Labour has a resolute commitment and promise to take our railways back into pubic hands.”