Getting people out of their private cars and onto public transport is often stated as the transport priority of Scottish ministers. But like much of what the Scottish government says, their rhetoric does not quite meet with reality.
Last month ScotRail launched a consultation on their new proposed timetable. Central to this is a plan to cut 300 services a day from the pre-pandemic timetable.
This would see fewer services for communities across the country, ticket offices closed and jobs threatened, but it would also inevitably force people back into their cars, increasing emissions yet further.
Inexplicably, transport minister Graeme Dey has fully endorsed this approach, all on the eve of the Cop26 conference in Glasgow – timing is everything!
In just six months’ time, Abellio who currently run Scotland’s failing railway will be stripped of the ScotRail franchise due to their appalling mismanagement of services.
They are currently in the unprecedented position of being in dispute with all four rail unions at the same time – a complete failure to value the key workers who kept the country moving and risked their health during the pandemic.
Their stewardship of the railway has been a disaster and is yet more evidence that privatisation and franchising has failed.
Following a long campaign by passenger campaign groups and unions, Scotland will soon thankfully move to a new system with a publicly owned rail operator.
This offers a huge opportunity to develop a railway that is run in the public interest, not for shareholder profit. To build a railway that is clean, green, reliable, frequent, affordable, well staffed and the pride of our nation's public transport system.
But if this is to happen the threat to services, ticket offices and jobs must be withdrawn. Graeme Dey and the Scottish government have a choice – step up and show leadership or roll over and watch as our railways further decline whilst emissions rise.
Neil Findlay is a former Labour MSP and is now a director of social enterprise Unity Consulting