Humza Yousaf says he is '˜committed' to role amid ScotRail row

Transport minister Humza Yousaf today defied union calls for him to quit over ScotRail's performance, vowing that he would 'certainly not' step down.

Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf
Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf

The demands followed major disruption to thousands of passengers when a ScotRail train broke down near Haymarket Station during yesterday morning’s rush hour.
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) said today it “may be time” for the minister to “consider his position” if he did not strip Abellio of the ScotRail franchise, over its performance.
That came after Aslef, the main train drivers’ union, yesterday calling on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to sack Mr Yousaf and return ScotRail to public ownership.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) - the largest rail union - joined in today, calling for an “immediate return” of ScotRail to “direct public ownership”, although it did not comment on Mr Yousaf.
All three unions support Labour’s campaign to renationalise the railways.
The SNP Scottish Government wants to see a public sector bid for the next ScotRail franchise from 2025.
ScotRail has been ordered to implement a performance improvement plan because its punctuality fell below 90.3 per cent of trains arriving on time.
However, its timekeeping has since improved marginally, by 0.3 points to 89.8 per cent in the year to last Saturday, compared to a month before.
Labour said yesterday’s figure fell to 72.5 per cent in the wake of the disruption.
ScotRail’s punctuality today - officially measured as trains arriving within five minutes of time - was 93 per cent by late afternoon.
The Scottish Government, which controls the franchise, can terminate the contract if punctuality falls below 84.3 per cent over three months.
Ministers can also review the ten-year contract in 2020 with a view to terminating it in 2022, two years before it is due to end.
Mr Yousaf said: “My job is to make sure that the railways are running, to make sure that buses are as efficient as possible, to make sure our trunk road network is moving.
“I’m committed to doing that job, as you’d imagine I am. I’ll be monitoring things absolutely closely.
“Yes of course there’s an apology there for commuters that were disrupted yesterday but an assurance from ScotRail, from me, that we’re monitoring things closely and I expect improvements to happen and happen immediately.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “I feel sorry for Humza because he’s trying to manage problems made for him by his predecessors.
“But it’s time for him to stop trying to admonish Abellio and instead take the keys back - and also to apologise to the Scottish people for the terrible error of judgement made by the SNP and begin rectifying their mistake by naming the date for a ScotRail ‘independence day’.
“If he can’t do this, then sadly, it may be time for him to consider his position.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ““RMT’s demand is clear. We know the Abellio experiment on ScotRail has been a disaster and has been a betrayal of the Scottish people, exactly as we said from the off.
“RMT now wants to see an immediate programme drawn up for the return of Scotland’s railways to direct public ownership and there should no dragging of heels on that.”
Yesterday, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “Nicola Sturgeon must take personal responsibility for this situation as her government awarded this contract.
“She should sack her incompetent transport minister.
“You can’t control what you don’t own, so the Scottish government should do the decent thing and return the railway to public ownership.”