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Scottish nationalists and Conservatives unite to reject motion to nationalise ScotRail

SCOTTISH nationalists and Conservatives in Holyrood united to reject a Labour motion today to nationalise Scotland’s failing railways.

The motion called upon the Scottish Parliament to take over the ScotRail franchise and terminate Dutch state company Abellio’s contract at the earliest chance.

Although backed by the Scottish Greens and trade unions, the vote fell by 85 to 34.

Abellio’s current contract, which was obtained in 2015, is set to run out in 2025.

However, Scottish ministers could have ended the franchise by the first expiry date in 2022.

Over the past year, the operator has faced widespread criticism for failing to hit agreed performance targets and stands accused of communicating poorly with passengers complaining about constant delays, poor toilet services and high ticket prices.

Anger was recently turned on SNP Transport Secretary Michael Matheson after he admitted he allowed a “temporary waiver” on Abellio’s service targets until June 2019, which prompted calls from Labour for his resignation.

Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “It’s clear to everyone who uses the railway here in Scotland, businesses as well as passengers,  that privatisation has failed the people of this country.

“Our rolling stock is older, our trains are more crowded and fares have gone through the roof. Mr Major talked about competition. But there is no competition! It was, and is, a fraud perpetrated by the Tories on passengers and taxpayers.

“We are calling on MSPs to stand up for Scottish taxpayers and the travelling public.”

Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “Passengers across Scotland are fed up with overcrowded, overpriced and late running trains.

“It’s time to hit the brakes on privatisation and bring our railways back into public ownership.

“The SNP claimed that the Abellio contract would be a world leading deal. Instead, the government has shifted the goal posts on targets and given the franchise a licence to fail.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash added: “Parliament should today take a stand and vote to begin to bring this madness to an end in Scotland.”

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