ScotRail services under public sector control.

On 1 April 2022 ScotRail services transferred into public control and ownership. Rail passenger services are now provided within the public sector, by an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.

This is a result of the Scottish Government’s decision not to award another franchise agreement to another operator on expiry of the Abellio ScotRail franchise on 31 March 2022. In the circumstances, our duty to run ScotRail services through what is known as the ‘Operator of Last Resort’ under section 30 of the Railways Act 1993 was engaged.

ScotRail staff transferred to the new Scottish Government owned operator, ScotRail Trains Limited with their terms and conditions.

ScotRail Trains Limited is owned and overseen by Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd (SRH Ltd), which is wholly owned by the Scottish Government. ScotRail Trains Ltd will operate ScotRail services in Scotland and will continue to be known as ‘ScotRail’.

Governance structure

  1. Scottish Ministers
  2. Transport Scotland Sponsor
  3. Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd.
  4. ScotRail Trains Ltd.

An agreement is in place between the Scottish Ministers and Scottish Rail Holdings (SRH) which sets out the broad framework within which SRH and its subsidiaries will operate.

This is known as the Framework Agreement.

Note: This PDF may not be fully accessible. If you need to request this information in a more accessible format, please email TSRailSponsorshipEnquiries@gov.scot.

Visit the SRH website for further information.

The ScotRail brand

Pull into any Scottish station or ride any trains in our fleet and you'll be greeted with ScotRail's fresh, distinctive look. Our brand is a dynamic representation of the Saltire, the iconic, world-famous symbol for Scotland.

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, every leaflet, timetable and poster carried the new look for the brand.

The branding ensures that Scotland's trains have a consistent look for the first time. You can see it in all the stations and trains we manage, and was implemented during routine maintenance so we can deliver it without any additional cost to taxpayers.

The brand delivers savings to taxpayers by providing a consistent look which will not change with new franchise operators. 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.

Every new fleet that ScotRail launches will contain the Saltire livery, while the existing trains have all been updated during general maintenance work.

Transport integration

The Scottish Government has a strong focus on improving connections between modes of transport. It helps make public transport a more attractive and convenient alternative to private cars.

Customers are concerned with the journey as a whole - not just the rail part. That is why we work closely with our industry partners to maximise the benefits of rail travel within a fully integrated transport system. We meet regularly with ScotRail to ensure that journey times and connections are maintained and improved wherever possible, and to exchange information on integration matters.

Connecting rail passenger services with other transport modes is central to encouraging people to travel by public transport. Improved on-site cycle parking facilities allow more people to cycle to and from stations, supporting more first and last mile active travel journeys into town centres. A number of large scale cycle points at key stations such as Aberdeen, Stirling and Glasgow Queen Street are now available.

ScotRail does not directly operate cycle hire facilities at stations, but they continue to work closely with third-party providers to help integrate new cycle hire sites at, or close to stations where possible. These hire schemes further improve connections and provide active first and last mile journey options. ScotRail has previously developed station travel plans to deliver improved transport integration at 20 stations.

Smart and integrated ticketing


We published our Smart and Integrated Ticketing and Payments Delivery Strategy in 2018. It sets out the Scottish Government’s long term vision, that:

All journeys on Scotland’s bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram networks can be made using some form of smart ticketing or payment.

The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 introduced a number of provisions that will enhance ticketing schemes across Scotland. These include connecting modes and stronger powers for local transport authorities, to ensure ticketing schemes meet public need.

As part of the previous franchise agreement with Scottish Ministers, ScotRail committed to a comprehensive programme of smart ticketing across Scotland’s railways.


ScotRail’s smartcard has been introduced on all routes and is available for the majority of ticket types. Passengers can buy tickets online which is: 

  • faster and easier with no need to queue at the ticket office
  • more secure against lost and stolen cards

Smartcards can be used on different modes of transport and across multiple operators. This will help reduce the number of paper tickets and plastic smartcards being produced.

We continue to work with ScotRail and other partners across the transport industry to:

  • enhance the passenger experience
  • simplify and improve access to the network
  • increase the use of smart ticketing and payments

Find further information on ScotRail's ticketing.

Questions and answers (Q&A)

Q. Why take ScotRail into the public sector?

Following the careful consideration of all options against the background of the current legislation, the revised Franchising Policy Statement and the continuing uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the delayed UK White Paper, Scottish Ministers announced on 17 March 2021 that it would not be appropriate to award a franchise agreement to any party. They confirmed that a Scottish Government owned company, ScotRail Trains Ltd, will run ScotRail services after the end of the current franchise on 31 March 2022.

Q. Who is ScotRail Trains Limited?

ScotRail Trains Limited is owned and overseen by Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd (SRH Ltd), a company wholly owned by the Scottish Government. SRT Ltd will operate rail services in Scotland and will continue to be known as ‘ScotRail’.

Q. Who is Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd?

Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd (SRH) is a Non-Departmental Public Body that has been set up with the express purpose of overseeing the new operator, ScotRail Trains Limited, on behalf of the Scottish Ministers. 

For more information about SRH visit www.railholdings.scot

Q. What is the governance structure?

  1. Scottish Ministers
  2. Transport Scotland Sponsor
  3. Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd.
  4. ScotRail Trains Ltd.

Q. Will trains/stations look any different?

The ScotRail brand belongs to the Scottish Government and will remain. Signage on trains and branding elsewhere which denotes Abellio ScotRail Ltd as the operator of ScotRail will be removed.

Q. What changes will happen on 1 April 2022?

We expect services to continue as normal, and that it will be business as usual for passengers and staff. It is important that we provide that reassurance and familiarity to passengers, in the short term, as we build back from the pandemic.  

Q. Have all staff transferred over to ScotRail Trains Limited?

Staff have now transferred to ScotRail Trains Limited with their current terms and conditions, and we committed to the application of the public sector pay policy to staff within SRT from 1 April 2022 - with the caveat that any pay deals which have already been agreed for 2022/23 will be honoured.

Q. Is Scottish Rail Holdings now in operation?

Yes, Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd is now operational and will oversee the delivery of ScotRail services by ScotRail Trains Limited on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

The Chief Executive Officer and Finance Director have been appointed.

In terms of wider staffing, recruitment for posts within SRH have been advertised externally, as well as internally within Transport Scotland and the wider Scottish Government. A number of Transport Scotland staff have transferred to SRH, with others due to undertake secondments from 1 April.

Q. Have the trade unions been engaged?

Yes, engagement with trade unions and rail staff began in early January and, over recent weeks, the Minister for Transport has met with all four rail unions, collectively and individually.

Q. How will the National Conversation shape ScotRail?

We have announced a National Conversation to encourage elected members, rail staff and stakeholders to play their part in shaping what our new beginning for ScotRail should look like - an affordable, sustainable, customer focused rail passenger  service in Scotland in a post pandemic world.

This initiative will offer rail staff, passengers and communities an opportunity to contribute to the future Vision of Scotland’s Railway.

It is envisaged that the national conversation will launch in May after the local elections. It will engage a wide ranging group of stakeholders including passengers, regional transport partnerships, rail unions, disability groups, businesses and educational interests.

This engagement will inform a report on outcomes from the conversation in the autumn.

Transport Scotland officials are currently considering the details on the most effective and productive engagement programme to deliver the national rail conversation

Q. What about the future of Caledonian Sleeper?

The Sleeper Franchise is not due to expire until 2030. From 1 April the franchisee, Serco Caledonian Sleeper Ltd has the option to submit proposals for rebasing the current franchise agreement.

Q. Are these plans nationalisation of the railway?

No, our view is that an integrated, public sector controlled railway, fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and Parliament will best serve Scotland’s economy and its communities. However this cannot be delivered within the existing legislative framework which is largely reserved.

Q. What are the opportunities of this approach?

Whilst the transition is a consequence of the Operator of Last Resort arrangements put in place in furtherance of Ministers’ statutory duties, it provides the Scottish Government with an opportunity to work with stakeholders and elected representatives from all parties, through our National Conversation to help build rail services fit for a post pandemic world.

Q. What are the priorities moving forward?

Our priority remains for the successful transition for staff and passengers to ScotRail Trains Ltd from 1 April. Thereafter the safe, reliable and efficient delivery of services which develop to meet the changing needs of passengers and contribute to our decarbonisation commitments will remain the priority.

Q. What’s the role of staff?

Our rail staff have a vital role to play in shaping and delivering a successful future railway for Scotland. Like so many of our key workers, ScotRail staff, and indeed, all our rail workers, went above and beyond throughout the pandemic. We will always be grateful to them for all that they did to help keep our rail services running during these challenging last two years. We want to take ScotRail staff and the unions with us on this journey into Scottish Government ownership.

Q. Will free rail travel for U22’s be introduced?

The Scottish Government currently have no plans for a national entitlement that allows free rail travel.

Young people up to 21 have been our priority for the new scheme for free bus travel as this age group is generally more reliant on public transport, more likely to travel by bus and to find public transport expensive. They are also more likely to be in low-paid or insecure work than people aged 22 and over.