JOBSEEKERS will get free rail travel to interviews then a month’s free travel when they land a job under the new ScotRail franchise.
Over-50s will also be eligible for discounts currently reserved to over 55s, and all passengers will have access to advance fares from £5 between any two Scottish cities, ScotRail’s new Dutch operator Abellio has announced.
Transport minister Derek Mackay will outline the benefits for passengers at the launch of the new franchise at Stirling Station on Wednesday.
He said: “The Scottish Government was clear that this franchise should be about more than delivering a rail service – it should be an enabler for growth and an important contributor to communities up and down the country.
“Abellio are getting this off to a great start by offering a huge helping hand to those looking for work, in the form of free travel to two job interviews a month and then free train travel for the first month when they do get a job.
“More people will now be able to benefit from the ScotRail 55+ concessionary scheme, which will now be available from the age of 50, encouraging more people to get out and about on the train, and commuters will be able to book in advance from £5 between any two Scottish cities – that could be Dundee to Glasgow for £5, Inverness to Edinburgh for £5. It’s a really remarkable offer.”
The ScotRail franchise is the biggest single contract let by the Scottish Government and is worth just over £6 billion.
The contract is for ten years but a break clause will allow either side at the halfway point to decide to end the contract in 2022.
Abellio has pledged to introduce new trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow, refurbished high speed intercity diesel trains with more than a third more seats, free wi-fi on all trains and 23 per cent more carriages across the network.
More than 3,500 parking spaces and bike-hire points will be installed at a number of stations, and a Great Scenic Railway Journeys of Scotland campaign will aim to attract more tourists.
Several stations will receive facelifts or improved facilities, with enhanced online services and better integration with other forms of transport.
ScotRail staff, who all transfer to the new franchise, have been given a commitment to living wage earnings, which will extend to subcontractors.
Abellio has pledged to create at least 100 apprenticeships and has guaranteed no compulsory redundancies throughout the life of the contract.
Jeff Hoogesteger, chief executive of Abellio Group, said: “Under Abellio, ScotRail will not simply be a train-operating company, but a passenger-operating company.
“This means it will play a truly strategic role in the long-term development of the nation; providing jobs and support for small businesses in towns and cities across the country; supporting and boosting Scotland’s leisure and tourism industries and connecting businesses and people by improving journey times and the capacity of Scotland’s rail services.”
It was revealed last week that thousands of ScotRail staff had been told to snip off old logos from their uniforms when the franchise changes hands because new outfits won’t be ready in time.
The instruction was met with derision by rail unions.
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