08 Oct 2014
Rail campaigner, John Mason MSP, pictured outside Bridgeton rail station in his constituency

Rail campaigner, John Mason MSP, pictured outside Bridgeton rail station in his constituency

SNP MSP and Co-Convener of Holyrood’s Rail Cross Party Group, John Mason, has commented on today’s news that Dutch rail operator Abellio has been awarded the ScotRail franchise in place of First.  Under the terms of the contract there is the potential for a break in the contract after five years to allow for any major political developments.

Commenting from Parliament, Glasgow Shettleston MSP, John Mason said:

“As someone who uses the trains on a regular basis, I feel that First ScotRail did a pretty good job and it is a bit surprising that they have lost the franchise, although the same thing happened some years ago when National Express did a reasonable job and lost out to First, so we will see what the future holds in terms of Abellio.  Given that it is the same rails, stations, trains, and staff, very little actually changes with a new franchise.

“However, improvements are promised with the new franchise and we will wait to see more details on these.

“Going forward, I remain far from convinced that the present tendering process is the best way to operate our railways and we need to look at public ownership.  I would love to see full devolution of rail powers to Scotland so that we could choose for ourselves if we wanted a publicly owned railway. 

“If the Scottish Government had followed Labour’s calls to halt the tendering process to wait for further devolution – which is not likely to happen until at least 2017 – then it could have resulted in the Government being taken to court by all the bidders.  The reality is that it was simply too late to make any radical changes to the rail franchise this time around but I am keen that this be on the table in the future and will do all I can to keep this on the political agenda going forward”.