Scottish Labour in bid to force Scotrail renationalisation at Holyrood

Written by Tom Freeman on 14 November 2018 in News

Scottish Parliament to debate scrapping Abellio's contract to run Scotrail after performance dip

Scotrail - CC 2.0

Scottish Labour will attempt to pressure the Scottish Government into renationalising the Scotrail franchise later today in a vote at the Scottish Parliament.

Current operator Abellio, the international arm of Dutch national railways, has an agreement to run the franchise until 2025, but there is a break clause which allows the Government to terminate it in 2022.

The Labour motion to be debated today is: "That the Parliament believes that the Scottish Government should exercise the break clause in the ScotRail franchise at the earliest opportunity.”

The party argues it should then fall into public ownership.

Last month it emerged transport secretary Michael Matheson allowed Scotrail performance targets to be waived until June 2019 after a number of issues plagued the rollout of new trains on the network.

Now Labour have released figures which show an average of 70 trains a day are being cancelled in Scotland.

Abellio has blamed Network Rail for the dip in performance.

Labour Transport spokesperson Colin Smyth said: “MSPs today can hit the brakes on failed rail privatisation by backing Labour’s bid to exercise the break clause in the ScotRail contract.

 “Abellio was supposed to be a world leading contract for ScotRail. Instead passengers are suffering from overpriced, overcrowded trains that are frequently cancelled or skipping stops.

 “The SNP promised to work up a public sector bid for the railways, if that were a serious promise they should be willing to exercise the break clause so that operator can step in.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We know performance is not where it should be - that is why ministers can and do hold Abellio ScotRail to account within the terms of the franchise agreement.

“This includes the ability to end the contract if its terms are not met and it is in the public interest to do so - nothing has changed in this regard.”

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