Plan for second class rail in Scotland

16 November 2011

Transport Scotland has announced a public consultation on proposals which train drivers’ union ASLEF said would ‘devastate’ Scotland’s rail network. The union has called for massive opposition to plans that it says would ‘fragment the industry and downgrade the service’.

One option put forward would split the current Scotrail franchise. ‘This is almost unbelievable when the recent McNulty Report on UK rail identified fragmentation of the network as the single main reason preventing its success,’ says ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman. ‘Experience and evidence shows conclusively that breaking up a railway leads to failure. Yet Transport Scotland is putting it forward as a proposal. It is utter folly that could only lead to a second class service for Scottish rail passengers.’

One idea being floated is to take the busiest route in Scotland out of the network. ‘Rail in Scotland works precisely because of cross subsidy,’ says ASLEF’s Scottish officer Kevin Lindsay. ‘Take the Edinburgh to Glasgow route out of the equation and every other line will suffer service cuts and even closures. The sleeper service would come under immediate threat.’

The union says the consultation which ends in February is effectively about whether speculators should be given the right to destroy a unified national rail network. ‘‘We will build alliances with passenger groups and MSPs to oppose these ill-considered proposals,’ Kevin says.

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