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ScotRail franchise

The ScotRail franchise operates over 2,270 train services each day, delivering 86 million passenger journeys per year and is the single biggest contract let by Scottish Ministers, worth a total value of over £7 billion over 10 years.

The new ScotRail passenger rail franchise was awarded to Abellio in October 2014 and new operations commenced on the 1 April 2015. For background information on the procurement of the new rail franchise see the renewal programme.

The ScotRail franchise covers all services apart from services that operate across the Anglo-Scottish border by other operators (Virgin, East Coast, TransPennine, Cross Country and the Caledonian Sleeper).  ScotRail does operate services to Carlisle.

What is a Rail Franchise?

Rail franchising in Great Britain was created by the Railways Act 1993. Franchising is the mechanism by which Scottish Ministers secure rail passenger services.

This allows a private operator to provide rail services on the Scottish rail network on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The Identity Guidelines for Scotland’s Railway

The ScotRail brand

One of the more visible aspects of the ScotRail franchise is a fresh look for all of Scotland's stations and trains. The “ScotRail” brand is a dynamic representation of the Saltire, a symbol of Scotland that is recognised around the world.

The Scotrail brand was launched on 22 September 2008 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the ScotRail name.

By the end of that year, the brand was applied to all printed material produced by the franchise operator and can now be seen on all leaflets, timetables and posters.

The branding ensures  Scotland's trains have a consistent  look for the first time. It has been  extended across all of ScotRail’s managed stations and trains during routine maintenance cycles to ensure it is provided  at no additional cost to taxpayers.

It is intended the brand will deliver savings to taxpayers by providing a consistent look which will not change with a new franchise operator. In the past, trains and stations were rebranded with each new franchise, which proved expensive, disruptive and unnecessary.

The fragmented appearance also created confusion for the public with differing signage, colours and brands, so a clear and consistent visual identity was created for ScotRail.

More trains from the existing fleets are now appearing in the Saltire livery, carried out whilst other major work was being delivered, and since the introduction  of the new class 380 trains in 2011, the ScotRail brand has become increasingly visible around the country.

Looking ahead all the fleets which ScotRail plan to introduce over the next three years such as (70 Hitachi class 385, 27 HSTs and 7 class 320/4) will have the new Saltire livery applied.  Existing trains which are to be retained beyond 2018 will also have internal and external Saltire livery delivered as part of general upgrade programmes.

Measuring performance

Monitoring performance is a key aspect of the franchise. We monitor the franchisee's quality of service through the Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE), which is a customer focused scheme that measures the quality of facilities at stations and on trains.

It covers a wide range of areas from waiting areas, help points, booking offices to train toilets, cleanliness and graffiti.

In addition, the franchise agreement includes a method of measuring the reliability and punctuality of train services

Station investment

Abellio ScotRail will be making significant investment in improving railway stations from front line improvements to passenger facilities such as better waiting facilities, additional and upgrades to CCTV, new customer information screens, new ticket vending machines and additional car parking spaces. Significant investment will be made in retail developments such as “to go” kiosks and “ticket plus” outlets enabling combined retail and rail ticket purchases to be made.

To encourage businesses, passengers and visitors to integrate with other modes of transport, Abellio ScotRail have committed to providing cycle facilities at railway stations across the rail network.

To support environmental improvements, Abellio ScotRail will install Electric Charging Bays at stations to promote low emission car usage.

Train fleet

Abellio’s new franchise commitments will see significant improvements throughout the ScotRail train fleet in the coming years.  This will deliver enhancements across the range of on board facilities to make rail travel more attractive to commuters, leisure users, business travellers and tourists across the country with an increase in seats of 23% by 2019. These will include:

  • 70 new electric Hitachi trains rolled out between summer 2017 and early 2019 across the central belt
  • 27 high speed trains to operate on inter-city routes serving 7 cities from December 2018
  • 7 class 321s leased from late 2015 to increase seating capacity on the Glasgow suburban electrified routes
  • 2 loco hauled services for Fife circle featuring new class 68 locos and mark 3 coaches [6 cars] all to be in ScotRail livery  
  • All existing Electric Multiple Units fleet class 318/ class 320/ class 334/ class 380s will have Wi-Fi, power sockets, passenger counting equipment fitted where currently it is not in place,
  • 40 class 158 trains significantly enhanced to support the Great Scenic Railways of Scotland package on Borders, Far North, Kyle and West Highlands routes from December 2017 delivering accessible WC, wheelchair space, bay seating, air conditioning upgrade, seat covers, flooring, lighting, maps on tables, information screens, decals, painting, counting equipment and re-livery
  • 38 class 156s refurbishment programme for Great Scenic Railways of Scotland package on Glasgow-Stranraer and Dumfries/Carlisle routes from December 2017
  • 21 class 170s retained beyond December 2018 with a refresh programme
ScotRail rolling stock fleet totals
OCTOBER 2015 Electric Diesel
Class of train C314 C318 C320 C321 C334 C380 C380 C156 C158 C170
No. of cars per train 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 2 2 3
Max speed [mph] 75 90 90 90 90 100 100 75 90 100
Leased Trains in fleet 16 21 22 7 40 22 16 47 48 50 + [5]*
Year Built 1979 1986 1990 1990 2000 2010 2010 1988 1990 1998-2005
Pax Info. System no yes yes yes yes yes yes yes 40/48 yes
Toilets per train 0 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 2
CCTV no yes yes yes yes yes yes yes 40/ 48 yes

* [x5] c170s subleased from GTR

Transport integration

Interconnectivity of rail passenger services with other transport modes is central to encouraging people to travel by public transport. Abellio ScotRail will be investing in new facilities to make it easier for customers to make door-to-door journeys e.g. at selected stations there will be Bike & Go cycle hire schemes and cross-modal information screens that will display arrivals and departures of other modes such as bus, ferry or air.

Abellio ScotRail will support new integrated transport services including a phased roll out of greatly improved facilities for cyclists at stations, a new taxi booking service, and by providing much more extensive information about onward travel. There will also be improved timetable connectivity between different modes of transport and more through tickets that combine rail travel with bus, sail and air travel – all working towards improving access and interchange at stations across Scotland.

Abellio ScotRail Cycle Innovation Plan

Smart and integrated ticketing

With a Scotland-wide extension of Smart and integrated ticketing, Abellio ScotRail have set ambitious targets for the delivery of Smart ticketing on Scotland’s rail network. Passengers should experience improvement in a move to Smart ticketing and solutions e.g. a Journey Companion App (door to door travel planning across all modes), Smart-enabled website and an App to purchase tickets.

Abellio ScotRail will offer greater flexibility through access to new ticket and payment types, including Club 50 Smartcard, discounts for Smartcard season holders and interoperability of Abellio ScotRail’s Smartcard scheme with other transport operators.

Improvements for staff

Having good staff is integral to a successful railway and will ultimately deliver a great passenger experience.  The ScotRail franchise commits to training, ensuring good terms and conditions and recognising the value of staff in delivering passenger railway services.  Franchise commitments include:

  • Earnings of at least the living wage for all staff and subcontractors,
  • At least 100 apprenticeships,
  • Guarantee of no compulsory redundancies throughout the life of the franchise contract,
  • Rail staff pensions and travel rights will be protected,
  • Introduction of guaranteed trade union representation on every franchise Board meeting
The decision making process

Documents relating to the ScotRail franchise agreement can be found in the Public Register. Regular meetings are held with Abellio ScotRail to discuss franchise performance and the minutes of these meetings are published.

Previous franchise arrangements – to 31 March 2015

The previous rail franchise was held by First ScotRail. This ended on 31 March 2015.

Documents relating to the ScotRail franchise agreement with First ScotRail can be found in the Public Register.

Regular meetings were held with First ScotRail to discuss franchise performance and the minutes of these meetings are published.

The results of the Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE) for the latest period until 31 March 2015 are available on our website. You can review the performance report for all stations and for all train classes. Performance results for your line of route and for the trains operating on your line of route are also available.

The public-performance-measure (PPM) moving-annual-average (MAA) for on-time performance (that is, over the last twelve months) is as follows:

  • First ScotRail PPM-MAA as at 2014-15 period 11 (all routes): 90.8 percent
  • Arriva Cross-Country - Edinburgh-Birmingham PPM-MAA as at 2014-15 period 11 (all routes): 87.5 percent
  • Virgin Trains - Glasgow-London and Glasgow-Birmingham PPM-MAA as at 2014-15 period 11 (all routes): 84.4 percent
  • First Trans-Pennine - Scotland-Manchester International Airport PPM-MAA as at 2014-15 period 11 (all routes): 88.4 percent
  • East Coast Rail PPM-MAA as at 2014-15 period 11 (all routes): 87.3 percent

More up-to-date results can be sourced directly from Network Rail's site, where the data is updated every four weeks.

Comparative information for the rail industry in Britain can be found at:


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