FMQs: Patrick Harvie calls for Scotland's railways to become a "public service" again

The Scottish Green co-convenor quoted recent research from Common Weal and TSSA in pressing the First Minister for a commitment

PATRICK HARVIE has called upon the Scottish Government to commit to a public sector operator for Scotland’s railways.

The co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, which has committed in its manifesto to returning Scotland’s rail services to public hands, challenged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take action in light of the fact that rail fares are set to go up by an average of 3.4 per cent across the UK from 2 January 2018, the biggest rise in five years.

Harvie said: “We know that rail fares will see their biggest increase in five years and those who commute for work at busy periods will see a 3.6 per cent increase from next month.

“Research by Common Weal and the TSSA shows that if the money extracted from the system for private operators’ profits was reinvested we could see an average cut in fares of 6.5 per cent.” Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie

“This is alongside the overcrowding, the delays and all the daily problems that rail users experience across Scotland. This is a simply unacceptable situation, but there can be another way.

“The findings of research by Common Weal and the TSSA shows that if the money extracted from the system for private operators’ profits was reinvested we could see an average cut in fares of 6.5 per cent.

“Our railways have been run for profit for over 20 years now and the first minister must give a renewed and unequivocal commitment to ensure they once again become a public service.”

“The first minister must give a renewed and unequivocal commitment to ensure they once again become a public service.” Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie

Sturgeon responded by reminding Harvie that it was due to the actions of her administration that the Scottish Government was able to enter a public sector bid for Scottish rail services.

She further argued that under current legislation, the powers necessary for complete renationalisation of the rail service have not been fully devolved to Holyrood, and invited all those in parliament to campaign for their devolution.

READ MORE: Give Scotrail back to the public: Cross-party support emerges for railway reform after major report

The Common Weal/TSSA report cited by Harvie, ‘A public future for Scotland’s railways’, was published on 28 November, winning cross-party left-wing support, particularly from new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard.

The report offers guidance on how Scotrail could most effectively be nationalised, and suggests the creation of a publicly owned company based on similar models long employed by other European nations with higher standards and lower costs.

Picture courtesy of Derek Hoskins

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