New deal will see billions invested into Scotland’s rail services

Keith Brown
Keith Brown

New trains, revamped stations and superior facilities are on the horizon following the announcement of plans to overhaul the ScotRail franchise.

Transport Minister Keith Brown today announced that the competition to win the single biggest contract let by the Scottish Government has been won by operator Abellio.

Included in the new franchise, worth up to £6 billion and launching on April 1, 2015, are measures for a new approach to cycling with more than 3,500 parking spaces and bike-hire at a number of stations as well as major shopping developments at the stations at Aberdeen and Inverness.

Announcing the new contract, Mr Brown said: “The Scottish Government believes good public transport improves the lives of the people and the economy of Scotland. Following extensive consultation by the Scottish Government, Scotland’s railway has attracted a world leading contract to deliver for rail staff and passengers.

“We’ve already ensured that regulated rail fares will stay in line with inflation or less, and Abellio has come up with some truly innovative ways to make rail even more affordable, such as the £5 intercity fare anywhere in Scotland and reduced ticket prices for jobseekers and those newly in work, as well as a Price Promise for guaranteed best value fares.

“There will be benefits all over the country, with faster services between all our cities, new trains in the Central Belt, a Great Scenic Railway scheme bringing more tourists to the north, the south west and the Borders and major shopping developments at the stations at Aberdeen and Inverness. Glasgow will be the new base for Abellio in the UK with around 200 jobs.

“Trains will have more space for prams and wheelchairs, there will be rigorous new service quality control measures ensuring cleaner trains and improved right-time measures. We’ll see later services for concerts and events and improved integration with bus, ferry and air timetables, alongside a £520,000 Station Travel Planning ‘Plus’ programme and a Journey Companion app with door-to-door travel info, to ensure passengers can get straight from A-B.

“Every single Scottish station will have CCTV and passengers will enjoy improved waiting facilities at 40 stations, extra retail facilities at up to 50 stations, and hundreds of new car parking spaces.

“All employees including employees of subcontractors will be paid at least the living wage and a new Scottish training academy will be established.

“And for the wider community, unused station buildings will be transformed into premises for start-up businesses, locally-sourced food and drink will provide improved on-train catering, ScotRail training facilities will be available to charities free of charge and the franchisee will pay out £500,000 every year for rail-related community schemes.

“These exciting plans mean that our railways will continue to be innovative, passenger-led and a hugely important driver in Scotland’s long-term success and sustainability.

“This is a contract that will benefit the whole of Scotland.”

Transform Scotland welcomed the award of the new franchise to Abellio and called for the Scottish Government to come forward with infrastructure enhancements for inter-city routes.

Transform Scotland spokesperson, Paul Tetlaw, said: “We are pleased to see that many of the improvements that we had called for are specified in the new franchise. However, there will need to be serious investment in the inter-city routes and it is imperative that the Scottish Government now comes forward with detailed plans for infrastructure enhancements. If the train is indeed to compete with the car then we need to see the same level of ambition for the railway that the Government clearly demonstrates for roads.”

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