Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the new franchise agreement for Scotland’s Railways
The new franchise agreement between Scottish Government andOperator Abellio will see reduced fares and better working conditions for staff.
For staff Abellio have committed to
- a commitment to earnings of at least the living wage for all staff and subcontractors
- at least 100 apprenticeships
- guarantee of no compulsory redundancies throughout the life of the contract
- rail staff pensions and travel rights protected
- introduction of guaranteed trade union representation on every franchise Board meeting
For passengers the new franchise promises
- free wifi on all trains
- new approach to cycling with more than 3,500 parking spaces and bike-hire at a number of stations
- 23% more carriages across the network
- reduced fares for jobseekers
- high-speed intercity diesel trains, with over a third more seats
- advance fares of £5 between any two Scottish cities
- Great Scenic Railway scheme bringing more tourists to the north, the south west and the Borders
- major shopping developments at the stations at Aberdeen and Inverness
Dr Whiteford said
The new contract is great news for passengers in the North-east. The new deal will rejuvenate our rail service and deliver a first class service that will rival any public transport system in Europe.
A large investment in new trains in the coming years is a welcome development in shortening journey times, and the pledge of £5 fares between Scotland’s major cities is a great step towards making public transport an affordable alternative to taking the car on long journeys.
The pledge to pay Living Wage to all employees including subcontractors and the commitment to no compulsory redundancies is welcome news for those railway workers and with all staff to have their rail staff pensions and travel rights protected, this really does represent a better deal.
The establishment of a new Scottish training academy will also help build a better rail industry for the future – and the commitment to 100 apprenticeships will help get things off to a flying start.
Abellio take over the running of the Scottish Railways franchise on 1 April next year and say that 80 new trains are due to arrive at start of December 2017