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ScotRail Franchise renewal programme

On 8 October 2014, Keith Brown, the then Minister for Transport and Veterans announced the intent to award the new ScotRail Franchise to Abellio. The contract was signed on 18 October 2014 and Abellio ScotRail began operating services in April 2015. Further information on the procurement of the ScotRail franchise is provided below.

To access the suite of Franchise Agreement documents provided by Abellio see the Public Register.

For more information about the innovations and improvements the new contract will bring see the interactive map of the ScotRail network and ScotRail franchise brochure.


ScotRail Franchise ITT

The Invitation to Tender for the new ScotRail Franchise was issued in January 2014. Transport Scotland received five returned Bids in April 2014.

ScotRail Franchise ITTView the ScotRail Franchise Invitation to Tender


The Scottish Ministers set out the policy objectives for the ScotRail franchise as follows:

  • Ensure value for money.
  • Secure industry alignment to increase effectiveness and reduce costs.
  • Exploit utility and capacity of the network.
  • Improve journey times and connectivity.
  • Manage change effectively.
  • Improve passenger satisfaction.
  • Improve environmental performance.
  • Improve accessibility to services and stations.

Commercial proposition

The following is an outline of the specification: 

  • The new ScotRail Franchise will be for a term of up to 10 years with a review and a decision by the end of the fifth year to decide whether the franchise will terminate at the end of year 7 or 10.
  • There will be a detailed minimum service level specification which bidders will be required to meet.
  • Bidders will be required to offer proposals on how they will stimulate and achieve growth of off-peak patronage leading to better overall utilisation of the rail services.
  • There will be a regulated fares framework for peak and off-peak services, with freedom to set fares for ‘commercial’ ticket types, e.g. First Class and promotions.
  • Transport Scotland anticipates a collaborative working relationship in order to achieve maximum mutual benefits with the successful franchisee from capital investment in the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Project (EGIP), further extensions of the electrified network and the Borders Railway Project.
  • Bidders will be offered quality incentives based on the existing SQUIRE regime, augmented by incentives based on the National Passenger Satisfaction survey.
  • Bidders will be required to achieve a minimum performance of 92% ppm increasing to 92.5% by year 4 of the franchise.
  • Bidders will be required to purchase or lease suitable rolling stock for each of the Service Groups, which will deliver the specified levels of passenger environment and facilities. The condition shall be maintained by phased updates and refurbishment. Bidders will also be responsible for procuring the Rolling Stock for the EGIP Electrification Programme.
  • Bidders will be required to expand, fully develop and exploit the smartcard infrastructure already being installed in Scotland.
  • Bidders will be required to provide wi-fi capability on all trains.
  • Bidders will be encouraged to engage with Network Rail to consider the benefits of an Alliance or other collaborative working relationships, though this will not be a mandatory requirement.
  • Bidders will be required to achieve a minimum specification of transport integration with other modes and play a key role in securing further integration over the term.
  • Bidders will be asked to provide financial security of a size that is commensurate with the scale of the franchise and its importance to Scotland.

Procurement programme: Key dates

  • July 2013: OJEU notice issued
  • August 2013: Submission of PQQs by bidders
  • November 2013: Issue draft ITT for consultation
  • November 2013: Bidders' responses to draft ITT consultation
  • January 2014: ITT issued
  • April 2014: Submission of ITT responses by bidders
  • October 2014: Winning bidder notified and mobilisation commences
  • April 2015: Franchise commencement
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