Rachael Hamilton MSP has questioned the Scottish Government’s decision to terminate Abellio ScotRail’s contract early in 2022.
Mrs Hamilton has expressed concern that the move will cause disruption to passengers and puts into question job security for current employees. In response to Mrs Hamilton’s question to the Government’s rail statement, Transport Minister Michael Matheson said that improvements to punctuality and service are on the way.
In October 2018, Dominic Booth, Abellio UK’s managing director, said: ‘Scotland’s railway needs stability, not the upheaval a change in the franchise would bring about’.
Mrs Hamilton was concerned that the announcement would create uncertainty over future investment from the rail operators.
In response to the announcement, Alex Hynes, Managing Director of ScotRail echoed the comments of Mrs Hamilton, he said: ‘this decision creates uncertainty for more than 5,200 staff and our customers, we will maintain our focus on delivering vital projects for Scotland’s Railway and seeing through the delivery of significant customer benefits until March 2022’.
Mrs Hamilton has campaigned for improvements to the service on the Borders Railway, calling on more carriages, improved punctuality and an end to cancellations leaving commuters stranded.
Rachael Hamilton, Member for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire said:
“This early termination of the ScotRail franchise creates uncertainty for passengers and rail workers.
“The news means that Abellio is less likely to invest in the Borders Railway as a result of the outlook looking less stable.
“I worry that the announcement from the SNP Government casts doubt on the improvements that the people of the Borders are expecting on the Borders Railway.
“People in the Borders are furious at the lateness of trains and the overcrowding at peak times.
“We see improvements elsewhere in Scotland, but this simply hasn’t materialised on the Borders Railway.
“It is clear that when a new franchise is drawn up, there needs to be stringent measures in place to ensure that when the operator fails to meet punctuality targets, they are rightly reprimanded.