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Urgent round table review needed to resolve ScotRail crisis

2 October 2018

TSSA is calling for an urgent round table review with senior Scottish Transport civil servants, ScotRail bosses and senior rail union officials to come up with viable solutions to resolve the growing ScotRail crisis.


TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes says, “Scotland’s passengers will be furious they are being treated like second class rail citizens by their own government.”

His intervention follows news that delays on Scotland’s trains are now the worst since records began in 1997 and the troubling revelations that a fleet of old 1970s inter-city125 trains brought from Great Western Railway which should have been in service in Scotland six months ago now look set to come on track by Christmas without undergoing the refurbishment programme passengers were promised.

Cortes pours scorn on the efforts by ScotRail Managing Director, Alex Hynes, to spin the abandonment of the refurbishment programme as a “cost-saving exercise.” “Our union warned months ago that the up-cycling of the 125 trains was not possible because there were next to no spare parts left to repair the trains with. The attempt to refurbish them has been an unmitigated disaster.

Said Cortes, “Scottish rail passengers are being sold short by a government that says it’s all about Scotland. If that were true Transport Secretary Michael Matheson would find the patriotic-bottle to commission a new fleet of purpose-built trains for Scotland and scrap the decision to allow “museum pieces” to be rolled out north of the border when they have long since been decommissioned in the south.

“Our train services in Scotland are definitely going backwards. And Alex Hynes knows it. Trains run slower than they did in 1997 and to add insult to injury, we are now to be served up unrefurbished 1970s trains. But you can bet your bottom dollar, neither Hynes nor the SNP have any intention of implementing 1970s rail fares to go along with the museum pieces.

“It’s high time those responsible for running train services in Scotland do the job they are handsomely paid to do which is to keep Scotland’s passengers moving efficiently in order to service a modern economy. There far too much turnover of staff at Transport Scotland and the Transport Minister himself is still wet behind the ears.

“But our TSSA union represents train maintenance engineers, those who design the timetable, the controllers who ensure services run, station booking office clerks and senior industry managers. And from all levels I’m being told that the SNP and ScotRail are failing to heed the advice of the real experts in rail delivery - their own workforce - all of whom want public ownership to end the shambles of privatisation.

“The only way to have a joined-up railway is through vertical integration. We must reintegrate passengers’ needs with track ownership, with ownership of the rolling stock and carriage commissioning. And that requires us taking all aspects of the fragmented rail system back in-house in Scottish government ownership. Imagine if Scotland could build its own trains. But privatisation doesn’t allow it. It just allows Scotland to be given England’s fifty year old cast offs.

“Privatisation is the model that is defunct. It stands in the way of redesigning and reimagining Scotland’s railways. Public ownership allows for a re-integrated vision and a bright future for a Scottish train industry where Scotland could manufacture its own trains. Public money can and should be used to generate good quality jobs in Scotland.

“Our union is fully committed to this vision because it not only protects jobs, it brings the possibility of creating new manufacturing ones. It puts rail policy at the heart of a modern Scottish economy, so it is a no brainer to have rail industry workers advise government on this. We are happy to play our part which is why I’m calling for a meeting between Ministers, civil servants, ScotRail and our union. If he’s serious about his patriotism, Transport Minister Michael Matheson will show some bottle and get a date in the diary for this meeting. The privatisation model is more defunct than the museum piece trains ScotRail are trying to bring back into service".

 

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