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Support for Scottish Ministers’ proposal for Direct Award of ScotRail contract

Published 11 February 2021 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland have today responded to Transport Scotland’s ‘Franchising Policy Statement Consultation’. In our response, we agree with the Scottish Ministers that it should pursue a Direct Award for ScotRail services.

Transform’s rail spokesperson Paul Tetlaw said:

Class 385 trains by ScotRail Alliance (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“In the absence of a new long-term structure for the railway from the UK Government, it is clear that the Scottish Ministers must put in place interim measures in order to secure ScotRail services. Given the failure of the franchising system, and the Scottish Government’s desire for greater devolution of powers over the railway in Scotland, it appears to us that either a Direct Award or the Operator of Last Resort must be put in place. We support the introduction of appropriate interim measures and it is vital that these measures ensure the smooth continuity of services. 

“The future role of the railway in Scotland also needs to be mapped out. The railways have a fundamental role in cutting climate emissions and local air pollution, and providing transport for the 30% of Scottish households with no access to a car. However, the pandemic has severely impacted rail patronage and there are concerns that this will negatively impact demand in the longer-run. As such, the government will have to lead strong marketing campaigns to rebuild rail patronage after the pandemic, but also to shift investment into making rail journey times competitive with car travel in order for us to meet our climate change commitments.

“A key element of Scotland’s railway in the 21st century should be a reformed ticketing system which is seen by the user as simple and easy to both use and understand. It is widely believed that the traditional five days a week commuter market will not return and so flexible fares for regular commuters are required.”