Minister says Westminster ‘stifling’ plans for railways

Transport minister Keith Brown has hit out at the UK government, claiming it has “stifled” plans to improve the railways north of the Border.

Transport minister Keith Brown has hit out at the UK government, claiming it has “stifled” plans to improve the railways north of the Border.

Mr Brown said it was a “source of real frustration” that the coalition at Westminster would not allow the public sector to run rail services.

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Mr Brown and infrastructure secretary Alex Neil have written to UK Transport Secretary Justine Greening making the case for Scotland to have more powers in this area.

Mr Brown said that Ms Greening had told them there was no evidence to show a public body operating a rail franchise could offer better value for passengers and taxpayers.

But the Holyrood minister said: “Our ambition to revolutionise rail services in Scotland is severely restricted by existing legislation, and although we are investing vast amounts of funding in the sector, we don’t have enough influence.”

Mr Brown announced an overhaul of the rail network in June, worth £5 billion.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Scottish ministers already have substantial devolved powers in relation to the railways.”