Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
The privatisation of the British Railways was presented as the model for the privatisation of the Indian Railways by the Debroy Committee but during the last few years one part after another of the private British Rail has been re-nationalised. Now the Government of Scotland has announced that all train services in Scotland will be nationally owned by Friday 1 April 2022. The plan to nationalise Scottish railways was first announced back in March 2021 after persistent complaints from users over poor services. The private company Abellio has been running Scottish railway services since 2015 and was responsible for managing 2,000 train services a day across the country.
Scottish trains were in fact temporarily nationalised to help the rail network operate during the pandemic with the Scottish Government offering £173.1million to provide transport links for key workers. This time, the Scottish Government is taking over the railway systems on long term basis and decided not to renew Abellio’s contract, stating that “the current franchising system is not fit for purpose”.
No jobs will be lost through this takeover as all current Abellio employees will retain their positions. There is hope that nationalising the rail systems in Scotland will strengthen and improve train services across the country. Scotland’s transport minister stated the takeover will allow services to be “affordable, sustainable and customer-focused”. It is obvious from the statement that privatisation had driven rail fares beyond the reach of many Scottish people, because private railways were run only to maximise profit and did not care about passengers.
Privatisation of railways had made even safety of women a matter of concern. That is why the transport minister had to make a statement in the Scottish Parliament to make the railway network safer for women for which the government would consult with women to “better understand their experiences and… improve our public transport.”