Scottish Government Revised Franchising Policy Statement - ASLEF Response

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ASLEF has long called for the railway in Scotland - and across the UK - to be in fully public ownership. Bringing the wheels and steel back together, and both owning and operating the railway in the public sector, would mean that any profit could be re-invested in the system instead of leaking out to private interests.

ASLEF's response to the Scottish Government consultation on its Revised Franchising Policy Statement.

February 2021

  1. The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) is the UK’s largest train drivers’ union representing over 20,000 members in train operating companies and freight companies as well as London Underground and light rail systems, including just over 2000 members in Scotland.

  2. ASLEF has long called for the railway in Scotland - and across the UK - to be in fully public ownership. Bringing the wheels and steel back together, and both owning and operating the railway in the public sector, would mean that any profit could be re-invested in the system instead of leaking out to private interests.

  3. The current situation with the railway in Scotland is unacceptable. Under franchising, subsidy was continuing to go from the public purse to the operation of ScotRail but any profit was taken by the franchise holder. Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, ScotRail has been subject to an Emergency Measures Agreement which put the financial risk on the public sector but left the profit to the private operator.

  4. Clearly, as a public service, Scotland’s railway should be owned and operated by the public.

  5. While this draft statement may comply with legal obligations, the union strongly believes that the Scottish Government should be going far beyond this to bring the railway into public operation. The people of Scotland, passengers and rail workers have called for this and the Scottish Government has the power to take action.

  6. ASLEF believes that the Scottish Government should set out its intention now, through this policy, to nationalise Scotland’s railway, run the railway in public ownership, and operate this vital public service for people and communities, not profit.

  7. The Scottish Government has previously published its intentions to end the current Abellio ScotRail franchise early - as, evidently, the government can see as clearly as passengers and rail workers can that the current mode of operation isn’t working - and therefore has both the powers and the opportunity to bring the franchise into public ownership.

  8. The taxpayer should not be expected to bear the burden of financial risk while private interests are able to gain from any profit made.

  9. The Scottish Government should not be using the delayed Williams Review report as an excuse to avoid making the decision to bring Scotland’s railway back into public ownership. This Westminster delay should not affect plans in Scotland to either require that no future franchise can be profit-making, or to operate the railway publicly.

  1. The Scottish Government remains the franchising authority for the ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper services and, as such, can take ownership of the decisions to be made around these provisions. The Scottish Government has the power to implement change and improve Scotland’s railways. It must not lay blame on the UK Government.

  2. ASLEF’s members are proud to work on the railway, as are most railway workers, and proud of the services they provide to the people of Scotland. It’s time now for the Scottish Government to give them a service to be proud of.