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?
- Scottish Ministers
- Transport Scotland Sponsor
- Scottish Rail Holdings Ltd.
- 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 the 1 April?
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.