Labour to force vote on ScotRail break clause

Lesley Laird MP has welcomed a move by Scottish Labour to force a vote tomorrow (Wednesday) on whether the government should enforce the ScotRail break clause to bring the current franchise to an end in 2022.

Under the terms of the Scottish government’s agreement with the train operator Abellio, the SNP can exercise an opportunity in 2020 to end the franchise by its first expiry date in 2022.

The government has pledged to work up a public-sector bid. Labour supports renationalisation of the railways and said that if the SNP was serious about public ownership then it would have a bid ready to take over the franchise at the earliest opportunity.

In recent months it was revealed that Transport Secretary Michael Matheson will allow Abellio to breach the franchise performance levels in a “temporary waive” until June 2019.

He reached this deal with the firm after they had already hit breach level, without informing Parliament.

Lesley Laird MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “The SNP claimed the Abellio contract would be a world-leading deal – instead it broke records for the worst possible reasons.

“Rail passengers in Fife have endured the misery of overcrowded, overpriced and cancelled trains for too long and, despite promises of improvement, Abellio’s performance record just gets worse.

“Yet the government, instead of holding its hands up and admitting a mistake was made, chooses to try and sweep this mess under the carpet by lowering targets, effectively giving Abellio a licence to fail.

“Passengers are being failed and its time the SNP faced that fact, concentrated on their pledge to deliver a public sector bid, and seizes the opportunity to now end the franchise to spare commuters another four years of suffering.

“Labour has a plan for rail and we will make the case tomorrow to bring an end to commuter misery.”

Pic courtesy: Train Photos/Flickr