Rail franchise plans unveiled

Faster trains, better connections for passengers and an improved service for cyclists and disabled travellers who wish to travel more spontaneously than current arrangements allow will all feature when the new franchise begins in 2015.

More comfortable and faster trains will connect Scotland’s seven cities and services will be tailored to attract tourists to Scotland’s scenic railways.

Peak time ticket prices will be pegged to inflation for commuters, there will be continual innovation to improve Wi-Fi access for business and leisure travellers, and additional services will be laid on for major events.

The successful bidder for the franchise, the single biggest contract let by the Scottish Government, will be required to work with Transport Scotland, regional transport partnerships and other public transport providers to drive towards seamless inter-modal travel for passengers throughout Scotland.

Investment in the current franchise is already delivering the infrastructure for SMART tickets across the whole ScotRail network. The next franchisee will be required to drive up use of SMART across all ticket-types and play a full part in developing a smart ticketing scheme which can be used across all Scottish public transport.

The new franchise will ensure all those directly employed by ScotRail earn at least the Living Wage, every train has at least two members of staff and the franchisee will be required to put in place apprenticeship schemes for more than 100 new recruits in customer service and engineering.

Mr Brown said:

“Improving the passenger experience has been at the heart of our considerations for the next franchise and the specification I have set out is focused on innovation, connectivity, value and benefit for communities throughout Scotland.

“Unlike previous DfT led procurements which have focused on price, the ScotRail franchise competition includes a heavy emphasis on quality. 35% of the evaluation marks are available for improvements to current services reflecting the rail priorities which the people of Scotland have told us are important. Bidders for this franchise must commit to ambitious improvements if they want to win.

“The new contract will ensure an improved service for commuters, disabled passengers who wish to travel more spontaneously than current provisions allow, tourists and cyclists as well as a better deal all round for all those using our railways.

“The commitments made in our specification will build on the success Scotland’s devolved management has already secured. ScotRail will be a rail service of which Scots can rightly be proud.

“We will continue to mandate our fares policy of providing an affordable travel choice. Peak fares will not rise more than inflation and off-peak fares will fall in real terms (RPI minus 1%). We have listened to the voice of passengers and know that the continuation of this policy will continue to encourage more people out of their cars.

“ScotRail has been a great success since responsibility for the contract was devolved to the Scottish Government, delivering growing passenger numbers and higher levels of passenger satisfaction. The Scottish Government is continuing its commitment to Scotrail demonstrated by the record levels of over £3 billion capital investment alone in the coming years to operate, maintain and enhance our network. This investment presents the franchisee with opportunities to increase passenger satisfaction, drive growth, and improve services. We expect the franchisee, working closely with Network Rail, to deliver operational efficiencies, to take an innovative approach to areas such as wifi and smart ticketing and, importantly, protect the interests of passengers when capital improvements, such as the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project, are being made.

“The specification that I have set is challenging, but it will deliver real benefits to passengers as well as meeting the needs of the taxpayer for greater efficiency in the use of our resources. With five experienced railway operators bidding for the franchise - each committed to realising our ambitions - I am convinced that this strong competition will generate innovation and efficiency to deliver a great public rail service for the people of Scotland.”

The details were unveiled as the draft Invitation To Tender (ITT) was issued to the five companies which successfully passed the first stage of the bid process.

Abellio, Arriva, First Group, MTR and National Express will all now be invited to submit their proposals for the franchise next spring. The winning bid will be announced in Autumn 2014 before the new franchise begins in April 2015.

The Scottish Association for Public Transport welcomed the details.

SAPT Chairman Dr. John McCormick said:

"The Invitation to Tender will require bidders to plan major improvements to ScotRail services. Faster inter-city journey times, better trains, development of tourist services and greater provision for cyclists are all welcome developments. Service standard requirements and fares regulation are significantly better than in other parts of the UK.

“Transport Scotland has clearly listened to responses to the consultation exercise carried out last year.

“Urban rail users should benefit from the franchise requirement for the introduction of smartcards.

“The short-listed bidders have extensive experience of running "metro style" operations worldwide and we expect that this will bring new ideas for integrated transport in Scottish cities.

“The franchise requirement to attract greater use of Scotland's rural lines will boost Scotland's tourist industry and will protect the future of scenic routes like the West Highland, Kyle and Stranraer lines. The Border rail link will further increase rail tourism potential when it opens in 2015.

“Transport Scotland's integrated transport objectives are particularly welcome."

Notes to editors


Transport Scotland Press Office : 0141 272 7195


The Draft ITT document can be found at http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/rail/scottish-franchise-renewal-programme/scotrail-franchise

  • ScotRail is a success – in just ten years - passenger numbers up from 64m to 83.3m, performance up from 83.7% to 92.3% and passenger satisfaction up from 86% to 90%.
  • The specification for the franchise has been directed at addressing those areas identified through the consultation as needing improvement.

A Smarter Railway

  • Wifi fitted to all trains – for business and leisure use and to keep passengers updated.
  • Smart ticketing – more flexible ways to buy and use your ticket.

An Innovative Railway

  • Commitment to taking an innovative approach, true to Scotland’s innovative and entrepreneurial history, to propelling solutions to improved wifi access on trains alongside industry peers

A Faster Railway

  • New trains to deliver 42 minute services between Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • Accelerated services to Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen – connecting Scotland’s cities.
  • Contracted continuous improvements to journey times across the whole network.

A Connected Railway

  • Promotion of intermodal journeys, tickets and timetables between train, bus and ferry – a joined up transport network.
  • Improved connections between trains at key railway stations – putting the passenger’s interest first.

An Affordable Railway

  • Peak fares limited to rpi increases, off peak fares limited to an inflation-beating rpi-1.
  • Promotion of lightly used and off peak services.

A Greener Railway

  • New electric trains to replace diesel services – a rolling programme of electrification.
  • Improved facilities for bikes at stations and promotion of bikes on trains to leisure destinations at weekends.

A More Comfortable Railway

  • Enhanced comfort for longer journeys.
  • Catering that reflects the best of Scotland’s local produce.

A Railway For Scotland’s Communities

  • Commitment to apprenticeships.
  • Scenic trains to promote tourism and be emblematic of the best of Scotland, including locally sourced produce where possible, along Scotland’s famous railways.
  • Community Rail Partnerships to involve communities with their railway.
  • Opportunities for Scotland’s Small & Medium Enterprises

Published 19 Nov 2013