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Railhub Archive
2012-06-17 TSC-001
Transport Scotland


UK legislation on Scotland's railways are not fit for purpose

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Transport Scotland

UK legislation on Scotland's railways are not fit for purpose

00:01 Sunday, June 17, 2012
source Transport Scotland
type Press release

comment [The title of this release is accurately reproduced]

Scottish Ministers are facing unnecessary constraints in their endeavours to get the best possible rail services for passengers, Cabinet Secretary Alex Neil has warned.

Despite record Scottish Government investment in the railways, UK legislation dictates the ways in which the services can be provided.

Mr Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, has written to UK Transport Secretary Justine Greening to call for increased devolved powers over rail in Scotland.

And he deemed it perverse and verging on the ridiculous that state-owned companies from outside Great Britain can operate rail services in Scotland while homegrown public bodies cannot.

He wrote:

As the analysis of the various outcomes from our Rail 2014 consultation progresses, I am growing increasingly concerned and frustrated at the extent to which the legislative framework currently in place for rail across Great Britain constrains the options which we are able to consider.

While Scottish Ministers have certain powers under the Railways Act 2005, this is limited by broader rail legislation, in particular the Railways Act 1993 which privatised the rail industry.

This means that, despite providing the overwhelming bulk of the funding, Scottish Ministers have minimal say in how railways in Scotland are operated, managed and regulated and are limited to contracting rail passenger services by means of a private sector franchise.

Mr Neil wrote:

Domestic UK legislation, which remains largely reserved to the Westminster Parliament, is placing unnecessary constraints on our ability to look at all of the options for the provision of rail services that the people of Scotland have asked us to consider. I have come to the view that it did not fully envisage the extent to which the Scottish Government would invest in rail services, nor the role that railways
would play in Scotland's social as well as economic wellbeing. Therefore put simply, it is not currently fit for purpose.

Mr Neil's letter to Justine Greening comes ahead of Transport Minister Keith Brown's parliamentary statement later this week on the future of rail services in Scotland.

The statement will set out plans for the next rail passenger franchise and the next Network Rail funding agreement, both due for renewal in 2014.

In his letter, Mr Neil added:

It is perverse that largely state owned companies such as Deutsche Bahn or SNCF can operate rail services in Scotland, but a Scottish public body cannot, even in circumstances where this may be the most effective, value for money option available. This situation verges on the ridiculous when
one considers that the bulk of funding for railways in Scotland is provided by the Scottish Ministers, yet our options on how these services are delivered are unduly constrained.

Your consultation on rail decentralisation for passenger services in England suggests that improved outcomes for transport users might be achieved if more decisions relating to local services were made closer to the communities that they serve. I fully support that concept and would wish its application to Scotland. Accordingly, it is vital that the Scottish Parliament has full legislative competence with respect to the provision and regulation of rail services. This would be the simplest and most effective way of ensuring that we have the flexibility to consider the full range of options and give Scotland's communities the high quality, value for money services that they want and deserve.

We are considering the conclusions from the McNulty study along with the outcomes from our Rail 2014 consultation. What is undeniable is that the study has generated a willingness within the rail industry to work together to seek the necessary transformational change. I fear that we will lose this once in a generation opportunity for Scotland if we continue to be constrained by current legislation.

Notes to Editors:
1. Copies of the letter are available from Donna Watson - 07785 454 724
2. Scotland's next rail franchise and the Network Rail funding agreement are both due for renewal in 2014. Transport Minister Keith Brown will announce details of these in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
3. In the consultation “Rail decentralisation: devolving decision-making on passenger rail services in England the UK Transport Secretary stated that she was “determined to move to a more localised approach to decision-making on the railways” .
4. See the McNulty Study here
5. During a recent Lords debate the Earl of Mar and Kellie, in highlighting what he considered a legislative anomaly, used Deutsche Bahn (German) and SNCF (French) as examples of state-owned railway operators from outside Great Britain who could bid to run rail passenger services in Scotland, while a Scottish public sector organisation cannot.
6. Transport Scotland’s Rail2014 consultation ran from November 2011-February 2012 and allowed passengers, business, the rail industry and other interested parties to make their views known on the future of rail services in Scotland. The responses will be published on the Transport Scotland

For further information contact: Donna Watson 07785 454 724

Railhub Archive ::: 2012-06-17 TSC-001


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