Protesters demand Abellio is stripped of ScotRail contract

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin
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Protesters will gather at Glasgow Central station to demand Abellio is stripped of the ScotRail contract and to call for the franchise to be brought into public ownership.

The demonstration, organised by the TSSA rail union, is urging the Scottish Government to take action after months of delays and cancellations to trains in Scotland.

TSSA volunteers and other campaigners will be at Glasgow Central today and union leader Manuel Cortes said: “Passengers are rightly angry at the way ScotRail has let them down – 2019 started with yet more late and cancelled trains and overcrowding is at an all-time high.

“Blame belongs with Abellio and their team of senior managers. Poor planning, deliberate understaffing of the railway and trying to do things on the cheap are not the fault of our members who do their best in tough circumstances.

“But ScotRail also fails because of the systemic problems visited on it by the now beyond-broken experiment with privatisation of our rail companies and rolling stock.”

In December, ScotRail was instructed by the Scottish Government to submit a plan for how it will address falling performance levels.

However, the decision was criticised by Mr Cortes, who said Transport Secretary Michael Matheson “has reneged on his predecessor Humza Yousaf’s willingness to break the Abellio franchise this March”.

He added:”When there could have been light at the end of the tunnel after months of misery, Matheson has done no more than ask Abellio for yet another plan which will take two months to arrive before anything gets done. Scottish passengers deserve better than that.

“Under public ownership not only could ticket prices come down but investment in rolling stock and staff would go up. A publicly-owned ScotRail would reinvest the profits back into running the railway.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Rail remains a reserved matter under the Scotland Act. Until this changes, we cannot consider the full range of options for running the railways in Scotland in a way which best suits our passengers, freight providers and communities.

“That is why we are yet again calling on the UK government, through its rail review, to devolve all rail matters to the Scottish ministers.”

Scottish Labour said that they would have campaigners joining the union members at the demonstration in Glasgow.

The party’s transport spokesman,, Colin Smyth, MSP said: “It’s time to hit the brakes on rail privatisation.”