Posted 23rd August 2018 | 3 Comments

ScotRail to be opened up to public sector

PUBLIC sector bidders will be able to compete for the next ScotRail franchise, the Scottish Government has announced. The decision comes hard on the heels of a controversial report by former Labour transport minister Tom Harris which advocates a private sector operator.

Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson said: “Our consistent view over many years is that there ought to be a level playing field between the private and public sector in bidding for rail franchises. We secured the right for a public sector operator to bid for a rail franchise in Scotland, after being denied by previous UK Governments.

“Identifying a public sector body to make a bid has not been easy. It was vital to consider a range of scenarios as we want to strengthen competition and achieve best value for the public purse, while delivering continuous service improvements.

“It is important for any public sector bidder to have the appetite to bid; the capability and capacity to see the bid through; and the ability and resources to make the franchise a success.

“It is also our view that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government should have full powers to consider all options for structuring our railways to meet Scotland's needs.”

The Government added that future Scottish rail franchise competitions ‘will continue to be fair and transparent, giving equal treatment to all bidders whether from the public or private sectors’.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • A Brown, Lenzie, Glasgow

    Scotland has a ready made public body who are being lined up to bid for the franchise - David Macbrayne Ltd who look after the West Coast Ferries under the brand Caledonian Macbrayne. I'm not sure that West Highlanders would look forward to their trains being run by CalMac to the same standard as their ferries!

  • MikeB, Liverpool

    Public sector bodies? No doubt, most of the European railways operators would qualify.

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley Flintshire

    Too true. Identifying a public sector body with the expertise & ability to bid will be hard if not impossible without creating a new organisation. Costly in itself even before the cost of making a bid with no guarantee of success. The original privatisation legislation specifically excluded BR from bidding for any of it's own businesses when offered as franchises. Since then the entire BRB organisation has been dismantled with the surviving personnel & expertise distributed throughout the fragmented and increasing disfunctional industry.

    Perhaps it is ironic that the best placed public sector bodies capable of qualifying and bidding for franchises are the subsidiaries of the foreign railways currently operating the majority of current franchises.