REFORM SCOTLAND: TALK OF SCOTRAIL NATIONALISATION IS A “MEANINGLESS DISTRACTION”

REFORM SCOTLAND: TALK OF SCOTRAIL NATIONALISATION IS A “MEANINGLESS DISTRACTION”

Advisory Board member Tom Harris, a former Transport Minister, says the focus should be on infrastructure improvements

Reform Scotland, the independent, non-party think tank, has labelled the ongoing discussion around nationalising ScotRail as a “meaningless distraction”.

The think tank has today released a paper called “On the right track”, which:

  • Highlights that the railway infrastructure – lines and stations – are already publicly owned
  • Shows that over half of the delays on ScotRail trains are caused by publicly-owned Network Rail
  • Calls for Network Rail to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament
  • Calls for a Scottish Rail Infrastructure Commission to look at a strategic transformation in the rail network to 2050

The briefing, which can be read here, builds on Reform Scotland’s previous report Track to the Future.

Commenting, Reform Scotland Advisory Board member and former Transport Minister Tom Harris said:

“There has been almost constant discussion about nationalising ScotRail for years, and it continues unabated. But it is a meaningless distraction. ScotRail is responsible for only around one-third of the delays on the railways, whereas over half are down to Network Rail – the public body responsible already nationalised railways.

“What would be interesting to explore is whether the Scottish Government could do a better job of running Scotland’s railway infrastructure than the Westminster Government. It is logical that this could be the case, which is why Reform Scotland is calling for Network Rail to be devolved.

“Scotland’s rail problems are more fundamental than the current debate would suggest. In thirty years’ time, do we really want to be in a situation where it could take less time to reach London by rail from Edinburgh than it does to reach Inverness?  While rail links to London are important, so too are links within Scotland, links which are sadly lacking at present.

“What we really need is a strategic and forward-looking Scottish Rail Infrastructure Commission which would decide what our railways need to offer our people in 2050, and should look at what transformational change is needed to help improve connectivity and grow our economy.”

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