ScotRail urged to scrap 'draconian' ban on drinking alcohol

The ban has been described as 'unreasonable'.

ScotRail urged to scrap ‘draconian’ ban on drinking alcohol iStock

ScotRail’s ban on drinking alcohol has been described as “out of touch” amid calls for it to be lifted.

The measure was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic in November 2020 to help limit the spread of the virus.

However, the rail operator announced in July that it would retain the ban for the “foreseeable future” on its services.

ScotRail has insisted that the safety of its customers and colleagues is their “number one priority”.

The ban, having been agreed with the Scottish Government, will be reviewed.

ScotRail was brought into public ownership on April 1 this year, having been nationalised by the Scottish Government.

Ministers have now been urged to lift the ban, described as “unreasonable” by the Scottish Conservatives.

Graham Simpson, the party’s transport spokesman, called for the rule to be ditched.

“The SNP’s draconian ban on drinking alcohol on Scotland’s trains is out of step and out of touch,” he said.

“ScotRail is one of only a handful of rail operators in the UK to completely ban alcohol on their trains and the SNP’s refusal to drop this Covid-era restriction looks more unreasonable by the day.

“ScotRail put forward fair and sensible protocols for more flexible alcohol rules on our trains, which would allow passengers to consume alcohol while tackling anti-social behaviour.

“Yet instead of listening to ScotRail bosses, the SNP appear to have overruled them.”

Simpson added: “This ban was a Covid measure that should have been reversed along with other restrictions.

“It is time the SNP showed some trust in the Scottish public and scrapped this last, unreasonable rule.”

Stephen Elliot, ScotRail’s security and crime manager, explained the ban will remain in place until there is a further review.

“The safety of our customers and our colleagues is always our number one priority,” he said.

“The current alcohol ban on ScotRail services was introduced to support Covid-19 precautions and guidance, and will remain in place while it is considered as part of the Scottish Government’s National Conversation on Rail.”

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth hit out at the Conservatives over their call for a lifting of the ban.

“The Conservatives have consistently struggled with public ownership of Scotland’s trains, but on this issue in particular it is rather revealing that they do not accept the public should be consulted on alcohol use on Scotland’s trains,” she said.

“The premise behind this decision was not an ‘indefinite ban’, but rather a democratic consideration of the views of the people who actually pay for Scotland’s trains.

“It is also vitally important that staff are adequately consulted, particularly in relation to their safety in the workplace.”

Gilruth added: “Earlier this year, Mr Simpson appeared to be very concerned with women’s safety on public transport.

“Perhaps he should refocus his previous interest in this subject and consider all the issues that relate to the safety of passengers and why it is important that we gather people’s views and experiences before deciding on what to do about alcohol on trains in the long term.”

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