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Scottish Parliament faces calls to renationalise ScotRail

MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament returning to work today are facing calls to bring ScotRail back under public control.

Outside Glasgow Central station this morning, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard will make the case for removing profit-making firms from the transport sector.

The SNP government has said it will permit a publicly owned company to bid against privateers for ScotRail, but critics say this compromise option does not go far enough.

Mr Leonard said: “Passengers will benefit from rail services being reintegrated into the public sector as this removes private-sector companies with their excessive running costs.

“Across Europe public-sector-run trains are better than the current ScotRail service, with passengers in Scotland forced to endure overcrowded, delayed and cancelled services.”

The latest figures show ScotRail’s punctuality is now the worst on record, having sunk to 88.2 per cent, well below its target of 92.13 per cent.

Mr Leonard said this was due to transport becoming “too detached from being a public service.”

He added: “It is now clear that the dividing line in Scotland is between investment and growth with Labour or cuts and division with the SNP and the Tories.”

ScotRail is currently operated by Abellio, an arm of the Dutch state, which funnels profits from operations to subsidise services and fares at home in Holland.

And the Caledonian Sleeper to London is run by outsourcing giant Serco, which recently came under fire for its plan — now put on hold — to change the locks on asylum-seekers’ homes in Glasgow.

But last month the Scottish government announced that public-sector companies could bid for the next ScotRail franchise — an option repeatedly ruled out south of the border — with the exception of state-owned businesses from outside Britain.

David MacBrayne Limited, the Scottish government-owned holding company which owns the ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne, has confirmed it is interested in putting forward a bid.

SNP Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the public bid would allow “a level playing field between the private and public sector in bidding for rail franchises.”



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