The Scottish government has confirmed that all ScotRail services will transfer into public ownership from 1 April 2022.
In a statement to the Scottish parliament today confirming the transition, transport minister Jenny Gilruth also invited elected members and rail unions to take part in a national conversation on the future of rail services, to help shape the creation of “an affordable, sustainable, customer focused rail passenger service in Scotland, in a post pandemic world”.
Gilruth said she was also looking forward to working closely with wider partners including women’s organisations and British Transport Police to improve the public transport system, make it safer and build on the work already underway.
Speaking at Holyrood, Gilruth said: “I can confirm that the transition of ScotRail into Scottish government control will take place on 1 April 2022. Whilst that’s good news, it’s clear that much work still needs to be done - and in a collaborative way - to ensure the long term sustainability of rail operations in Scotland, to best meet the needs of the people we all represent.
“I want to kick-start a national conversation about what our new beginning for ScotRail should look like - an affordable, sustainable, customer focused rail passenger service in Scotland in a post pandemic world. I invite all members who have a genuine interest in the future of ScotRail, to get involved and work with me to shape the change that needs to happen. Change will happen on 1 April - so let’s have a conversation about that change and let’s work together to influence how that happens. After all, we all want a railway that delivers for our constituents.”
Gilruth said that rail staff had a vital role to play in shaping and delivering a successful future railway for Scotland and praised their work in going above and beyond throughout the pandemic. “We want to take all of ScotRail’s staff with us on this journey into Scottish government ownership,” she said. “That’s why this invitation is also extended to the rail unions. We know the unions are passionate about the industry, and through open and frank discussion we can work together to harness that aspiration for the future. I look forward to those conversations tomorrow,” said Gilruth.
Responding to the news, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) called for a swift and seamless transition to the new ownership structure. RIA Scotland head, David Clarke, said: “The Scottish government has confirmed ScotRail’s new structure from this April and set out its priorities for the network going forward, stressing the need to deliver an affordable, sustainable and customer focused rail service. RIA and our members urge that the transition to the new structure is made as seamless as possible, so rail suppliers can continue to deliver effectively, to time and budget, without any hiatus in work.
“Rail suppliers across Scotland and the UK support thousands of jobs and drive investment and economic growth and have the capabilities to build a net zero railway. As the Scottish government delivers these changes, it is important it prioritises engaging closely with the supply chain, which plays a pivotal role in building, maintaining and upgrading the country’s rail network.”