Union calls for say in way forward for rail services

Abellio is to be stripped of its ScotRail contract from April 1 next year.

Union calls for say in way forward for rail services iStock
ScotRail: Being brought into public ownership.

A union has called for more say in decision-making after two senior posts in a new holding company set to take control of Scotland’s railway system were announced.

Abellio is to be stripped of its ScotRail contract from April 1 next year and the franchise is being brought into public ownership under holding company Scottish Rail Holdings (SRH).

On Friday, transport minister Graeme Dey announced the appointment of Chris Gibb as chief executive and David Lowrie as finance director for SRH from April 1 2022.

Aslef executive committee member for Scotland Jim Baxter said on Saturday that trade unions and workers “should be at the heart of discussions about the plans for a new publicly-owned operator of last resort”.

He added: “As things currently stand, trade unions are looking in from the outside. This is wrong, unsatisfactory and needs to be addressed urgently.

“That’s why these appointees must facilitate a change in approach, end elitist top-down policy-making and make workers central, not peripheral, when designing the new publicly-owned ScotRail.

“Aslef congratulates Mr Gibb and Mr Lowrie on their appointments.

“One of their first tasks must be to meet with Aslef and the other trade unions to discuss the way forward and how we create world-class rail services in Scotland.

“A key instrument in helping create world-class public ownership in our rail services is a properly democratised regulatory and governance framework that has a cross representation of people from within Scottish society involved.”

Transport minister Dey said the new appointees would “bring with them a wealth of knowledge in the rail industry”.

He added: “We are on track to delivering SRH in the new year which will provide ScotRail services within the public sector under Scottish Government control and facilitate the smoothest transition possible for rail passengers and staff on April 1 2022.

“The Scottish Government is of the view that this is the most robust and sustainable model available under current UK rail legislation, which we have no powers to change.

“It strikes a balance between the ability of experienced rail professionals to make operational decisions and overall accountability to the Scottish Government.

“We would also expect to see strong partnerships with Network Rail and other parts of the industry as a key feature of the new arrangements.

“We expect that the formal transfer of ScotRail staff to the new arrangements will commence over the coming months and full details and support will be provided to all of those affected in good time.”

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