The SNP Government is taking over the running of the Scotland’s rail franchise when the current one with Abellio expires in March 2022.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson MSP announced on Wednesday that rail services will be run by an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the SNP Government.
Because railways are reserved to the UK Government after the Tories privatised them in 1994 and none of the successive Labour, Tory/Lib Dem and Tory Governments wanted to reverse this, the SNP Government can only take control now as an ‘Operator of Last Resort’.
Its decision to do so has been shaped by a number of factors, including faults with the current franchising system, uncertainty from a year-long delay in the UK Tory Government’s rail review and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“This bold move by the SNP Government will bring welcome stability and certainty to those who use our railway for work and leisure across North Ayrshire and Scotland.
“Of course if John Major’s Tory Government hadn’t privatised Scotland’s railways using the Railways Act 1993, or if successive Labour Governments had bothered to renationalise our railways during the 13 years they were in power from 1997 and 2010, we would have never been in this position.
“The SNP has long argued that the future structure of Scottish railways should be in Scotland’s hands and it is high time that the current Tory Government listened and devolved rail powers to Holyrood.”