Proposals for a people's railway for Scotland have been revealed in Edinburgh. The Co-operative Party, train driver's union ASLEF and SERA, the Labour Party’s environment campaign, collectively called for a mutual not-for-profit future for ScotRail at the launch of a joint policy document on December 5th.
The proposal, drawn up by rail policy expert Prof Paul Salveson, calls for a railway owned by the people of Scotland, which would give communities, employees and passengers a say in how it is run.
Entitled ScotRail: A Peoples Railway for Scotland, Prof Salveson's paper calls on the Scottish Government to take control of the ScotRail franchise and put in place a model that would invest profits directly back in to the service rather than pay them to shareholders. The paper also calls on the Westminster government to amend the 1993 Railways Act to open up the franchising process to mutual and other ‘not for profit’ models of train operation.
Prof Salveson said: "While the current ScotRail Invitation To Tender does go a little beyond the standard value for money metric in terms of focus on passengers, this document challenges Transport Scotland and bidders to be more ambitious in the way in which they involve communities and the workforce."
The document is backed by a survey for Co-operatives UK, which indicated that over 78 per cent of people in Scotland supported having more say in how rail services are delivered. It was commissioned following a call made at the 2013 Scottish Labour Party Conference for fresh thinking on the future ScotRail franchise.
James Kelly, Labour/Co-op MSP and shadow infrastructure minister, said: “This paper shows that there are fresh ideas on the crucial issue of improving the accountability of our rail network coming from the Labour movement. We need some big thinking on how we can put passengers and staff more firmly at the heart of transport delivery.
"Given the SNP government’s decision to issue a traditional franchise offer this time, Scottish Labour will use these ideas and principles to hold the Government and franchise bidders to account and ensure the people of Scotland get the best deal. We'll also be considering these proposals for a future franchise.”
Karin Christiansen, General Secretary of the Co-operative Party, added: “It's high time that people had a greater say over the services they use. Ever since privatisation, the railways have been run in the interests of shareholders, rather than in the interests of passengers, tax payers and staff.
"We're pleased to have worked with ASLEF and SERA to make the case that there is another way. Paul Salveson’s work shows that the people of Scotland could have a different kind of railway. This is why we believe the ideas deserve detailed investigation.”
Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said: “We know from research, and from popular opinion, that privatisation is now recognised as failing the travelling public. Therefore, any model that recognises the needs of the travelling public, and the needs of business, but allows any surpluses to be reinvested for the greater good, has to be the way forward.”
In this article
- Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen
- First ScotRail
- Labour Party
- Paul Salveson
- Person Career
- Person Party
- Rail transport in Scotland
- Rail transport in the United Kingdom
- Scottish Government
- Social Issues
- Transport in Scotland
- United Kingdom