Dear Transport Scotland
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this important consultation on the future of Scottish rail services.
We note the implied preference (see section 9 of the consultation document pasted in below) of the Scottish Government for a direct award to be the immediate way forward – and are content with that approach, given:
- the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on demand for travel by rail – both now and in the future;
- the current legislative framework within which the Scottish Government must act, and;
- the still awaited conclusions of the Williams Rail Review.
We would add that the current situation of necessarily high government financial support for rail services – appropriate in that the government has advised that travel be for essential purposes only over many months’ now – presents an opportunity for consideration of how best public monies can be disbursed to encourage the maximum use of public transport as we seek to “build back better” from the pandemic.
In particular, we would urge that:
- greater consideration be paid to promoting integration (of both services and ticketing) across public transport modes – bus, rail, ferry, etc., and;
- the period of any direct award be used to analyse options for a publicly owned operator of rail services – working in legislatively mandated co-operation with bus and ferry operators and whose board should also reflect the various areas of the country covered by existing Regional Transport Partnerships. We are struck by the success of the Verkehrsverbund system in countries such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland and think there is much which Scotland could learn from their experience of running integrated public transport services over many decades.
I hope that these few comments are helpful – and wish you well as you move to a decision on this matter.
Capital Rail Action Group