Pub­lic sec­tor bid­ders sought for next ScotRail fran­chise

Rail (UK) - - Network News - Richard Clin­nick As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­ @Clin­nick1

PUB­LIC sec­tor bid­ders will be el­i­gi­ble to bid for the next ScotRail fran­chise.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment con­firmed the move on Au­gust 23, stat­ing that this was a Pro­gramme for Govern­ment when it was elected.

Abel­lio cur­rently op­er­ates the ScotRail fran­chise, hav­ing been awarded the con­tract in 2014 and tak­ing over on April 1 2015. There is a break­point in the con­tract in 2020, but Trans­port Scot­land con­firmed that even if that op­tion is taken up, the cur­rent fran­chise would run for two years be­yond that. How­ever, TS con­firmed to

RAIL that it ex­pects the ex­ist­ing deal to end in 2025, and that the ten­der­ing process will be­gin around 2023. A spokesman said: “We have stated many times that the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and the Scot­tish Govern­ment should have full pow­ers to con­sider all op­tions for the de­liv­ery of Scot­land’s rail­way ser­vices.”

Al­ready David MacBrayne Lim­ited has con­firmed its in­ter­est in ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of bid­ding for the next con­tract. DML is the par­ent com­pany of three busi­nesses - CalMac Fer­ries Ltd, Ar­gyll Fer­ries Ltd and So­lent Gate­way Ltd - and is a pub­licly owned pri­vate com­pany with the Scot­tish Govern­ment as the sole share­holder.

In a state­ment, Trans­port Scot­land said that fu­ture rail fran­chise com­pe­ti­tions “will con­tinue to be fair and trans­par­ent, giv­ing equal treat­ment to all bid­ders whether from the pub­lic or pri­vate sec­tors. This ap­proach will help en­sure the de­liv­ery of rail ser­vices in Scot­land that max­imise eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fit.”

A spokesman said the na­ture and terms of what is ex­pected will be de­tailed in the In­vi­ta­tion to Ten­der.

New pow­ers were awarded to Scot­tish Min­is­ters in 2016, through the Scot­land Act 2016, to al­low pub­lic sec­tor bod­ies to bid for rail fran­chises. This fol­lowed Scot­tish Govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Smith Com­mis­sion.

Michael Mathe­son, Cabi­net Sec­re­tary for Trans­port, In­fra­struc­ture and Con­nec­tiv­ity, 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.”

A Trans­port Scot­land spokesman told RAIL that the Scot­tish Govern­ment is aware of pas­sen­ger frus­tra­tions re­gard­ing train per­for­mance, but that it also un­der­stands the chal­lenges and fac­tors fac­ing rail per­for­mance - both his­tor­i­cally and more re­cently. He said the ScotRail Al­liance se­nior man­age­ment knows more must be done to build on the lessons

learned so far.

TS ac­knowl­edged that 160 ad­di­tional coaches have been added to the ScotRail fleet since the start of the fran­chise, with a fur­ther 200 to fol­low in the next month, giv­ing the op­er­a­tor a 50% in­crease in fleet size since 2007.

In 2015, the Scot­tish Govern­ment also awarded Serco a 15-year con­tract to op­er­ate the Cale­do­nian Sleeper fran­chise, and a TS spokesman said: “We reaf­firm our com­mit­ment to work with Serco to de­liver the trans­for­ma­tion over the 15-year con­tract du­ra­tion.

“While any fu­ture de­ci­sion about the na­ture of this con­tract will be taken at an ap­pro­pri­ate time, Scot­tish Min­is­ters se­cured the abil­ity for pub­lic sec­tor bod­ies to bid for all fu­ture Scot­tish rail fran­chises.”


Vet­eran ScotRail 314201 leaves Glas­gow Cen­tral with the 1142 to Pais­ley Canal on Au­gust 21, while in the back­ground class­mate 314202 ar­rives with the 1057 from We­myss Bay. Pub­lic sec­tor bid­ders will be able to bid for the next ScotRail fran­chise, al­though by then (2023), these three-car EMUs will have been con­signed to his­tory with with­drawals planned for this year.

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