#SNP17 votes to “send a strong message” to Westminster demanding the devolution of Network Rail

Motion passes amid discussion of a public sector bid for Scottish rail system

THE SNP spring conference has voted to demand the devolution of control over Network Rail, in a move framed by a wider debate about a future public bid for control of Scottish rail services.

Network Rail is the company that controls rail infrastructure, including signalling systems, rail and improvement works across the UK. The Scottish Government does not control its operation in Scotland, but does franchise out the operation of the Scotrail Train company.

Failures in service delivery have encouraged the Scottish government to prepare a public sector bid for Scotrail, which is currently operated by Dutch corporation Abellio.

Presenting the motion Michael Gibbons of SNP Milngavie branch said he favoured a “public sector bid to renationalise the railways”, but that Network Rail had to be devolved to Scotland for the government to exercise full control over the rail system.

“The service that our government pays for is not currently accountable to our government,” he argued.

Another delegate, Alistair Wiley, spoke to remit the motion, complaining that it wasn’t sufficient to have control over Network Rail, as the powers of the rail regulator also needed to be transferred.

Unions rally for “golden opportunity” of ScotRail public ownership

Scottish Government transport minister Humza Yousaf, supporting the motion, told the conference that the logic of the motion was vital regardless of the wording of the motion

He said: “When the railways weren’t working as well as they could we rolled-up our sleeves.

“Rail is now performing at 95 per cent [on time journeys].

“Regadless of the wording, it’s important we send a strong message that we want control of network rail.”

SNP MP Drew Hendry said that Scottish Government control of Network Rail function is Scotland would see “meaningful investment” in Scottish rail infrastructure.

Those forwarding the motion claimed that 54 per cent of rail delays were down to failures with Network Rail.

A public sector bid for the Scotrail franchise could come in 2020.

Picture courtesy of Dayle's Fotos

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