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SNP silences ScotRail dissent in their own ranks at the SNP conference

5 October 2017

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, says the SNP must announce they are taking back public control of Abellio ScotRail or face accusations that they are stifling debate and silencing internal opposition on public ownership of ScotRail.

Cortes' criticism follows the publication of the SNP Conference Agenda which fails to list public transport as a subject for discussion on the conference agenda for the second year in a row.

Scottish Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, is scheduled to make a keynote speech to the Glasgow conference arena at 11.15am on Tuesday morning, there is no provision for conference delegates to probe the Minister on why ScotRail has turned from a profit making to a loss making business in the last year.

Said Cortes, "Humza is due to address his conference on Tuesday on the theme of Making Scotland's Voice Heard. Hard pressed Scottish rail passengers who are sick of an expensive bad service would just like their voice to be heard in Scotland and by their own Transport Minister.

"Scotland deserves to know how and why ScotRail has gone from making a £15 million profit in the first year Abellio ran it to a £3.5million loss now. Humza needs to come clean too about who is picking up the bill for this years loss - Abellio who run ScotRail so badly or the Scottish taxpayers. Frankly, what is he doing to stop the rot? Sadly, so far Humza has said nothing on this issue.

"He also needs to come up with an answer as to why he's let a fat cat culture come into play at ScotRail. They're making a heavy oss but handed a hefty performance bonuses of up to £135,000 a year to unnamed senior executives. It''s alright for some as passengers continue to pay through the nose for a third rate service as ScotRail attempts to slash gateline operators on £18,000 a year and take out other security critical staff who don't make much more in their annual salary.

"Unless Humza can say he is now prepared to take ScotRail into public ownership and implement the Abellio franchise break-clause, he will simply be grandstanding before his own membership, whilst allowing real unease amongst SNP supporters about the shenanigans at ScotRail to be suppressed.

"Taking ScotRail into public ownership is the only way to future-proof Scottish coffers from a further run on them by this company - which after all is ultimately run in the interests of the Dutch government. Anything short of an announcement on Tuesday that the SNP are taking back the keys from Abellio to enable ScotRail to be publicly run is to perpetuate a broken Tory railway model and sell the Scottish people short.

"The Scottish Nationalist government could be doing so much better. It was the Tories who broke rail up and brought in the franchise system which is now recognised Britain over to be a failed way to run our railways. It's designed to make profits from fare hikes and public subsidy which is why Scotland has some of the highest fares in Europe and low infrastructure investment.

"Our TSSA campaign to bring ScotRail back into public ownership and keep Scotland's railways staffed so passengers get a good, helpful, human service is hugely popular. It is also the right thing to do. If Humza does not enact the break-clause in Abellio's franchise in his speech on Tuesday, then silencing his own delegates on this issue looks authoritarian and control freakery of the highest order. I urge Humza to be bold."

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