The Scottish Government has announced that ScotRail services will come under its ownership from the expiry of the current franchise next year.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson told the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday that ScotRail services will be provided by an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.
Mr Matheson also announced that work is underway to put in place further Emergency Measures Agreements for ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises from 1 April until September.
A Scotrail train from Inverness to Glasgow Queen Street
He said: ‘At this difficult time, I want to give rail staff and passengers as much certainty as I can about the future.
‘I have repeatedly stated the current franchising system is no longer fit for purpose. Keith Williams, who led the UK Rail Review process, has also said that “franchising cannot continue in the way that it is today”. Yet, there is continued uncertainty about the form and timing of rail reform emerging from the UK Government review process, which is now a year overdue.
‘It is high time that the UK Government listened to our requests to place the future structure of the Scottish railway in Scotland’s hands. The simplest way to do this is to devolve rail powers.
‘In the meantime, with the current ScotRail franchise expected to end in March 2022, we need to take decisions about successor arrangements within the current legislative framework.’
David Sidebottom, director at watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘Passengers will judge the success of the any changes on how far it meets their priorities for improvement: more punctual and reliable services, better value for money and the cleanliness of the service.
‘A stable, reliable railway will be a key part in getting Scotland moving again and helping rebuild the economy. Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and ScotRail will need to work together to deliver a smooth transition and build an attractive offer that will encourage people back to rail.’