The SNP-led administration in Scotland has awarded the contract to run ScotRail to Abellio, which is owned by Dutch state rail company NS.
Immediately after the referendum on Scottish separation, the general secretaries of the rail unions supported by MPs and MSPs seized upon the assurances that Scotland will be given powers to run its railways in the public sector if it wishes. They challenged the SNP-led administration to cancel the tendering process to avoid committing Scotland to a decade of “private” rail services.
The SNP showed its ideological commitment to the British government obsession with privatisation by promptly awarding the contract to Abellio, with the ink barely dry on the awarding of a contract for Anglo-Scottish sleeper train services to public service pariahs Serco.
“Scotland could have taken control of its own railways, instead they have opted to go Dutch.”
This shows how the SNP looks on ‘independence” – it wants separation from Britain, but is happy to be beholden to the EU and a foreign state-owned rail company, and happy to have Scottish taxpayers paying towards investment in Dutch railways.
“There is no question that this whole franchising process could and should have been halted, pending the ratification of the post-referendum devolution settlement,” said RMT general secretary Mick Cash. “Scotland could have taken control of its own railways, instead they have opted to go Dutch, meaning that profits will be sucked out of the system to underpin investment and fares in Holland.”
RMT members may be wondering why their union backed separation in the recent referendum.
• See companion article, Rail: We’re propping up foreign governments