Scottish Greens lament the Scottish Government’s lack of urgency over public transport
THE SCOTTISH GREENS have called for Network Rail, the nominally public body that runs rail infrastructure across the UK, to have its operations devolved to Scotland.
John Finnie MSP, transport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, has also demanded that the Scottish Government improve compensation for rail passengers experiencing poor service.
The call comes following a week in which opposition parties have attacked the performance of the service provider Abellio, public service Scotrail and the Scottish Government.
“Public transport has been overlooked by the Scottish Government for too long. It's a shame it has taken till now for them to notice.” John Finnie
Finnie said: “Greens have long called for Scotland's railways to be publicly run as they are a public service. While we’ve yet to hear directly from the transport minister on this point, it is welcome that he has spoken of the need to prepare a public sector bid.
“In the short-term, passengers deserve action to improve the current dismal situation. Far too often commuters either have to stand all the way or they simply can't board a train due to overcrowding. Abellio need to understand that poor service is unacceptable, and that offers of compensation should be automatic and easy to complete.”
Transport minister for the Scottish Government Humza Yousaf is due to make a statement on Scotrail this afternoon having previously stated that although there were issues with the train operator, these had to be “put into perspective”. Additionally, Scotrail operator Abellio has been ordered to produce a performance improvement plan by Transport Scotland.
The Scottish Government can point to an average improvement of performance of rail services under their tenure with the public performance measure (PPM) of the percentage of trains arriving on time at their destinations on time at 91.2 per cent compared to under previous Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrat administrations with a rating of 85.8 per cent. Humza Yousaf has repeatedly called for Network Rail, the infrastructure body itself, to be brought under Scottish Government control as it has a key responsibility in maintaining tracks and physical lines across Scotland.
“Abellio need to understand that poor service is unacceptable, and that offers of compensation should be automatic and easy to complete.” John Finnie
However, Labour pointed to official figures showing more than one-fifth of trains on “express” routes were delayed on Tuesday morning last week.
Longer-term, the Greens want to see additional staff hired to ensure services flow smoothly, for staff to be consulted on ways to get punctuality and reliability back up to standard, and for Network Rail in Scotland to be devolved so that responsibility for rail infrastructure rests with the Scottish Government.
Finnie added: “Occasional delays and technical problems are understandable, and these can be made bearable by providing decent facilities for passengers. Our ageing stations are long overdue modernisation. We also need to ensure appropriate staffing levels and involve the staff themselves in any improvement plans as they know best how the service can be improved.
"Public transport has been overlooked by the Scottish Government for too long. It's a shame it has taken till now for them to notice. Greens stand ready to offer constructive solutions to make Scotland’s railway the high quality public service it should be."
Picture courtesy of Ray Forster
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