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Call to implement break clause

Labour will demand early end to ScotRail franchise

ScotRail train Waverley

Time to hit the brakes on privatisation of ScotRail, says Labour


Labour will this week demand a vote on whether the government should enforce the ScotRail break clause to bring the current franchise to an end in 2022.

Under the terms of the Scottish government’s agreement with the train operator Abellio, the SNP can exercise an opportunity in 2020 to end the franchise by its first expiry date in 2022 .

The government has pledged to work up a public sector bid. Labour supports re-nationalisation of the railways and said that if the SNP was serious about public ownership then it would have a bid ready to take over the franchise at the earliest opportunity.

In recent months it has been revealed that Transport Secretary Michael Matheson will allow Netherlands-based Abellio to breach the franchise performance levels in a “temporary waive” until June 2019. He reached this deal with the firm after it had already hit breach level, without informing Parliament.

Scottish Labour Transport spokesperson Colin Smyth said: “Passengers across Scotland are fed up with overcrowded, overpriced and late running trains. It’s time to hit the brakes on privatisation and bring our railways back into public ownership.

“The SNP claimed that the Abellio contract would be a world leading deal – instead the government has shifted the goal posts on targets and given the franchise a licence to fail.

“For years the Nationalists have said they would work up a public sector bid, but that promise appears further behind schedule than the average train journey in Scotland. If the SNP was serious about a public sector bid it would be ready to step in at the first opportunity to end the franchise.

“On Wednesday Labour will make the case to end the franchise at the first opportunity, and accelerate the process for public ownership.”

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