Pressure builds on ScotRail as demands rise for nationalised railway

Demands growing to nationalise Scotland's rail network.
Demands growing to nationalise Scotland’s rail network.

LABOUR MSPs WILL today put pressure on transport minister Humza Yousaf to make a clear statement to the Scottish Parliament on the future of ScotRail services.

Mr Yousaf has already made it clear this week that he is now considering what would effectively be the nationalisation of Scotland rail services, following another dismal month during which the service has failed to meet acceptable standards.

Now a proposal is to be put before the Parliament’s business bureau this morning when the government and all opposition parties will be invited to back their demand.

The call comes amid growing anger over the poor service that Scotland’s rail passengers are enduring. Official data for the period from October 16 to November 12 shows that only 86% of trains arrived within five minutes of their scheduled time.

There was drop of 4.3 percentage points from the previous four-week period, despite an improvement plan being presented to SNP ministers in September.

Labour said Scotland’s rail passengers are losing confidence in Mr Yousaf, while train drivers’ union ASLEF has called for the minister to be sacked and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has also criticised the SNP.

Passengers on the line through Moray from Aberdeen to Inverness have become increasingly disillusioned of that service, with complaints over late and packed trains a regular occurrence.

Sean Morton -
Sean Morton – Moray is particularly badly served.

Moray Labour’s Sean Morton said: “It is clear the minister has not got a grip on his new portfolio. The man who admits he is “no transport expert” has lost the confidence of the train drivers and staff and crucially he’s lost the confidence of passengers.

“Moray has been particularly badly served by ScotRail. Less than half of the trains that come into Elgin arrive on time – that is an appalling record.

“We already have to put up with disjointed and poorly timed services, at the very least they could arrive on time.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Neil Bibby added: “Passengers are fast losing confidence in Humza Yousaf, so it is imperative that he comes before parliament to make an emergency statement on the ScotRail shambles.

“Exasperated commuters deserve to hear from him about how the SNP will fix this mess.

“Performance has deteriorated since ministers received an improvement plan, but Mr Yousaf appears to be more interested in photo calls than providing answers to the travelling public. We need less spin and more substance.

“When the SNP awarded the contract to run our railways to Abellio, SNP ministers said it was a ‘world leading’ deal. It is clearly nothing of the sort, and MSPs must have the chance to quiz the minister on behalf of rail travellers.”