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2012-12-06 TSC-001
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Rail franchise on right track


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Transport Scotland

Rail franchise on right track
_______________________________________________________________


date
6 December 2012
source Transport Scotland
type Press release



6 December 2012

The Scottish Government has announced a package of measures to protect Scottish rail service refranchising from the fall-out of Westminster’s West Coast Mainline “debacle”.

Transport Minister Keith Brown set out in Parliament a robust procurement process to further secure the refranchising programme and made a series of positive announcements on rail fares and services.

While the ScotRail franchising system is already sound, the current franchise will continue until 31 March 2015 to allow time to process the results of Westminster’s Brown Review and Laidlaw Inquiry into the collapse of the West Coast Mainline franchise contest earlier this year.

Mr Brown said:

“The Laidlaw Inquiry has concluded and has made clear that there was an accumulation of errors caused by factors including inadequate planning and preparation, a complex organisational structure and a weak governance and quality assurance framework. I fully expect the DfT to be revising its internal structure and processes in the light of the report.

“We are clearly in a better place. I am comforted that the processes and planning adopted within Transport Scotland adequately address the issues raised by the Laidlaw Inquiry. However, we are not complacent and we are reviewing the findings to glean where we can make improvements.

“While the Brown Review has a wider remit, it is still too restrictive. I would have preferred a remit that looked more fundamentally at the current privatised model and considered whether this was still fit for purpose. However, as I have said previously I await the conclusions of the Brown Review with interest and stand ready to respond appropriately to any conclusions relevant to our processes. And should its findings give me cause to change our procedures then changes will be made. It is imperative that we absorb lessons learned.

“The sleeper franchise is likely to be a contract in excess of £200 million. A sizeable sum. But that is dwarfed by a ten year ScotRail franchise, which may be in excess of £2.5 billion.

“These sums necessitate a cautious, prudent approach. We will not be rushed. We will not be hasty. And there will be no risky short cuts in terms of franchising in Scotland.

“I have decided that it will be sensible to plan for the franchise hand-over? at the end of the 2014/15 financial year on 31 March 2015.

“This date also enables First ScotRail to focus on addressing the demands in the run up to the busy Christmas period. Importantly, it also ensures that a handover does not occur in the midst of, potentially, the worst of winter weather.

“We have seen, all too recently, the consequences of not getting rail procurement right.”

Two separate procurement exercises will now be run in a phased approach – one for the main ScotRail franchise and another for the Caledonian Sleeper contract.

The competition for the Sleeper franchise will be launched in spring 2013 with the ScotRail contest following in the summer.

Mr Brown also revealed immediate good news on fares and extra train services introduced for a number of Scotland’s towns and cities to attract more people onto the railways and off the roads.

He said:

“I am pleased to advise that I have successfully negotiated an early fares cap with First ScotRail. I can confirm that peak fares will be capped in January 2014 and 2015 to RPI, delivering benefits two years earlier at no additional cost to the franchise subsidy.

“In the coming years we have substantial plans, particularly, to improve links between our city regions. Our infrastructure proposals between Edinburgh and Glasgow, between Aberdeen and Inverness, between Inverness and the central belt and between Aberdeen and the central belt underline that commitment.

“However, I also recognise that there is more that we should be doing within our regions and I will be sharing details as they are confirmed over the coming months.”

Speaking after his statement, Mr Brown added:

“We have decided to use part of the seven month contingency built into the existing franchise to allow us to factor in any lessons arising from UK Government commissioned reviews into the debacle, but also give the industry certainty and enhance the value of our franchises.”

Steve Montgomery, ScotRail managing director, said: “The franchise extension delivers welcome benefits for our customers.

“It will bring reduced fares in real terms for passengers, and more – and earlier – investment in extra services across the central belt and the north of Scotland.

“It will also create more jobs, including drivers and on-train staff, as we continue to go above and beyond franchise commitments to improve Scotland’s railway.”

He added: “I welcome the decision. It allows us to connect even more communities and further contribute to the economic, social and environmental well-being of Scotland at a time when more people are choosing rail.”



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