I believe that rail fare raises are most unwelcome, especially during these times of UK Government austerity and pay freezes.
In order to set fair fares it's important that the most appropriate operator is given the franchise, EU law allows public sector organisations to bid to operate rail services but the UK Government forbids this. I believe this reduces the Scottish Government's ability to ensure that rail users in Scotland receive the best service and value for money.I'm delighted that the Smith Commission accepted the Scottish Governments submission to change this in Scotland Bill – clause 49 read more here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2015-2016/0003/cbill_2015-20160003_en_1.htm
While the existing franchise rules prevented a public sector bid, the Scottish Government negotiated a deal with Abellio to run Scotrail which will deliver improved services including 80 new trains by December next year – that's 23% more carriages across the network, reduced fares for jobseekers, regulated rail fares which stay in line with inflation or less, and an intercity fare between any two Scottish cities starting at £5.There is also a clause to allow the 10 year contract to be ended after five years. Furthermore, over the 5 years to 2019 the Scottish Government has committed to spending £5bn of investment in Scotland's railways including £742m on the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP). This project will culminate in 8 carriage trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow which should ease congestion and improve customer experiences, it'll also shave time off the journey making it just 42 minutes - you can read more here: http://www.egip.info/
Rail usage in the last ten years has increased by over 100% which has led to overcrowding – it's great that Scotland's railway is adapting to meet this extra demand. I agree that more needs to be done to improve value for money and passenger satisfaction but I am confident that we're on our way!
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