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by Louise Wilson
09 February 2022
Scottish Government to consult on improving railway safety for women

Scottish Government to consult on improving railway safety for women

The Scottish Government has committed to making public transport safer for women as it takes on the ScotRail franchise as operator of last resort.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth confirmed the franchise will come into public ownership from 1 April 2022, as announced by her predecessor Michael Matheson last year.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Gilruth said the government wanted to “kickstart a national conversation” on the future of ScotRail to make it more “efficient, effective, productive and profitable”.

As part of the plan, the government is to commission and consult with women’s organisations on improvements to rail which would encourage more women to use the train.

She said: “As we look to the vision for Scotland’s new railway, we’ve got many choices to make, but I want our railways to be safe places for women to travel.

“We need to identify as a government where it is that women feel unsafe on our public transport systems and then identify how we’re going to fix it.”

The minister invited members across the chamber to take part in cross-party discussions on the future of the railways in Scotland, particularly on the next steps out of the pandemic.

Train usage is currently around half of pre-pandemic levels, but patterns of travel have shifted with more people working from home.

Weekends are now the busiest times for rail travel rather than commuter peaks.

ScotRail has confirmed the temporary timetable put in place at the end of last year due to Omicron will be scrapped from Monday.

However, services are not due to return to pre-pandemic levels, with around 250 fewer daily services.

Scottish Labour has urged the government to reinstate more journeys.

Transport spokesperson Neil Bibby said: “The Scottish Government’s actions must match the Scottish Government’s rhetoric, and regrettably at the moment it isn’t.”

But Gilruth said changing travel patterns meant it was not “sustainable” to do so, as this would mean “running empty trains”.

Regarding the new public operator, the minister confirmed employees would benefit from the public sector pay policy.

Discussions with trade unions are to take place on Thursday regarding other policies, including whether to instate a no-compulsory-redundancies rule.

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