Mid Scotland and Fife MSP has called for answers from the SNP Government in Edinburgh on Scotland’s railways.
Services across Scotland will be reduced by a third on Sunday due to ongoing disputes with Aslef, the train drivers’ union.
Scottish Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson said that drivers having to volunteer for Sunday shifts was ‘ridiculous’ as it emerged Dutch firm Abellio, who run the franchise, did not bid for the service on the basis of a seven day working week.
The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP backs a Peoples’ ScotRail, where a non-profit public sector organisation could bid to run Scotland’s railways
Scottish Labour has called for Keith Brown to answer why the bid wasn’t for a seven day week, and what, if any, agreements in the deal have been breached.
Scottish Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Dr Richard Simpson, said:
“This is a complete and utter shambles, it seems beyond belief that in 21st century Scotland a seven day working week was not factored into a multi-year, multi-million rail service that the people of Mid Scotland and Fife are paying for.
“No one wants to see industrial action but to end up in the situation where drivers have to volunteer for shifts to get them covered is ridiculous.
“Last year the SNP Government in Edinburgh hailed this deal, worth hundreds of millions of taxpayer cash, as world leading and cost effective – so why is it running into such problems so soon?
“The SNP need to explain why a seven day working week wasn’t factored into the bidding process, and clarify what, if any, agreements in the franchise have been breached.
“If there have been breaches to the agreement months into the deal, then the SNP Government should be looking for compensation to the public purse – taxpayers in Mid Scotland and Fife shouldn’t have to pay for cancelled services.
“Scottish Labour back a People’s ScotRail which would allow for a public sector non-profit bid to run the railways, an operator that would be more accountable to the Scottish public. After the problems since Abellio took over, it is an idea whose time has come.”
You can see cancelled services here – http://www.scotrail.co.uk/about-scotrail/news/changes-sunday-timetables
Last year, then SNP Transport Minister Keith Brown hailed the deal as ‘world leading’
Abellio prepared Q&A for staff transferring to the new franchise which says:
Do you have plans to make Sunday part of the working week?
As you can imagine, this is a debate that is often played out in our other TOCs! Some employees are keen, others not so and of course there has to be a business case that makes it a sensible proposition. Bringing Sundays into the working week was not part of our bid. We would not rule out discussions at some point over the franchise period, but it would need constructive negotiations with your Trade Unions and representatives to make it a cost effective option.