The union representing train drivers is claiming that the Scottish government is planning to split the ScotRail franchise and hand over the contract for sleeper services from north of the border to London to a private company. Aslef said that ministers will be making the announcement along with other changes to the rail network next week.
According to Aslef, the changes will see the introduction of a five-year deal for most services with a new, longer deal being put in place for the operation of the sleeper service. The union’s Scottish secretary, Kevin Lindsay, said he had been informed of the shake-up during a meeting with Alex Neil, Scotland’s infrastructure secretary.
He called the move backwards, explaining that if it did go ahead it would mean that Scotland’s railways would be further fragmented. He added that it would be a blow to profits as yet another piece of the transport network is handed over to the control of a private company.
In reaction to the statement, a Transport Scotland spokesman denied that any decision had yet been made over the future of the ScotRail franchise. He said that a long-running consultation had meant that various ideas had been discussed with the unions but they were nothing new. He went on to say that when ministers had reached any final decisions on the matter then these decisions would be presented in front of parliament.
A spokesman for ScotRail said that the company was not yet aware of any details about franchise plans.