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Call for change of priorities

Labour: ‘re-invest rail franchise costs in network’

Neil Bibby
Neil Bibby: reinvestment (photo by Terry Murden)

Scottish Labour today said the money it would save on tendering for rail franchises would be re-invested in a “People’s” network.

Speaking on the campaign trail at Haymarket station, Edinburgh, Neil Bibby, the party’s transport spokesman, said there was a need for a change of priorities that would help improve the service to passengers.

“The Scottish government [which has devolved power over the ScotRail franchise] is spending a lot of money on expensive tendering processes which should be money spent on the railway itself,” he said.

He accepted that nothing could change in Scotland for some time as the break-out clause for the current franchise agreement with operator Abellio is not until 2022. It could be some years after that before a publicly-owned ScotRail could come into force.

He said the transition would be rolled out across the UK as each franchise came up for renewal.

“A vote for Labour in June is a vote for bringing the railways back into public ownership,” he said.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn will transform Britain’s railways, bringing them back into public ownership.

“That will deliver a major benefit for Scottish passengers travelling to and from England. But there is a real risk that passengers travelling within Scotland will be left behind by the SNP.

“Public satisfaction with ScotRail is at a 14-year low and passengers are losing patience with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf’s failure to act. They are fed up with overcrowded, delayed and cancelled trains.

“The SNP refused Labour’s proposal for a fare freeze for all passengers this year; but the SNP must now follow our lead and commit to delivering a ScotRail service run for passengers, not profit.”

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