Unions meets minister over Scot franchise

13 June 2012

The union’s officer in Scotland, Kevin Lindsay, was part of a union delegation that met Scottish Minister Alec Neil yesterday to discuss plans for rail north of the border. ASLEF will not react before the government makes a formal announcement next week, but the proposals are expected to

  • introduce ‘deep alliancing’ of rail companies with Network Rail, meaning that private franchises are edging their way into the business of track and signal maintenance
  • confirm a subsidy of £700 million for the rail service
  • commit to completing the Borders railways and to the electrification of the Edinburgh --Glasgow line
  • outline a new fares strategy to support under-used lines in Scotland
  • announce £30 million for station investment and guarantee that there will be no station closures
  • announce plans to introduce Wifi on all trains
  • say that plans are being made to separate sleeper trains from the main franchise - meaning that they propose two franchises in Scotland
  • declare that they are willing to ‘discuss’ removing indemnification from franchises (the clause that says if there is industrial action the employer will be compensated!)
  • affirm support for freight on rail.

The government will say that while the McNulty Report on Rail commissioned by the Westminster government is not applicable to Scotland, efficiencies will be sought.

In the longer term, the unions were assured that bids from ‘not-for-profit’ model franchises would be welcomed, but the Scottish government would not, even in the event of independence, commit itself to ending franchising and returning rail to the public sector.

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