Poll shows support for fully devolved Scots rail network

North of the border, Network Rail is funded by Transport Scotland but is ultimately accountable to Westminster. Picture: John Devlin
North of the border, Network Rail is funded by Transport Scotland but is ultimately accountable to Westminster. Picture: John Devlin
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Most Scots want to see power over Network Rail north of the Border fully transferred to Scotland, according to a report into the nation’s railways.

Research commissioned for the report shows 60 per cent of people believe that all decisions about the railway network in Scotland should be taken by organisations overseen by the Scottish Government.

The survey of 1,063 people conducted by ScotPulse was done for the report, which has been written by former UK transport minister Tom Harris and Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research.

The report was commissioned by ScotRail franchise operator Abellio but was researched independently. Network Rail is a Britain-wide organisation. North of the border it is funded by the Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland but is ultimately accountable to Westminster.

The report, Is Scotland On The Right Track?, will be published tomorrow and will show that just 30 per cent believe that the current shared approach whereby rail organisations are overseen by both the Scottish and UK governments should remain. Fewer than 20 per cent claimed to “know a lot” about either Network Rail or Abellio ScotRail. Between a fifth and a quarter of those questioned admitted they did not know who was responsible for parts of the railway including rolling stock, stations, regulation and ticket pricing.

Network Rail owns and operates railway infrastructure across England, Scotland and Wales. ScotRail is the train operating company in Scotland.

Harris said: “The public and political debate about the future of Scotland’s railways has suffered from confusion about who is responsible for what. This tends to lead to politicised solutions to any perceived problems which, more often than not, are informed by ideology rather than reality. This research makes it clear that the public is focused on operations rather than politics.”

The Scottish Government has called for Network Rail to be devolved. A Network Rail spokesperson said: “All decisions about the railway in Scotland are already made in Scotland and Network Rail is already operationally devolved in Scotland with a joint MD running both train and track.”