Train of thought
Far from pulling the regions and countries of the UK together, the creation of British Railways in 1948 and the simultaneous formation of the Scottish Region did more to promote the sense of a national railway in Scotland than anything hitherto.
All of the other five regions were based on one of the old “Big Four” railway companies, the North Eastern and Eastern Regions both being based on the LNER.
Only the Scottish Region was completely new and in the early days of British Railways the regions were largely autonomous.
The SNP does not oppose rail re-nationalisation, it’s just that in present circumstances the Scottish Government can only implement UK Government policy.
The white paper, Scotland’s Future (page 127) said quite clearly that independence would provide “an opportunity to decide the best way to structure and support our railways, including the best ownership model for rail and track for the benefit of the people of Scotland”.
That doesn’t sound to me like easy endorsement of rail privatisation. Only the management of the ScotRail franchise is devolved to the Scottish Government and in choosing Abellio they have selected what appears to offer best value for Scotland in accordance with the relevant legislation. It is a nonsense of the UK Government’s making that while a foreign state-owned entity can bid for and win the right be a train operating company (TOC) in the UK a similar UK state-owned entity can’t.
Personally, I look forward to refurbished short HST sets taking over from Class 170 units on Scottish Inter City routes.
Much older the HSTs might be but they were built to last and with carriage-end doors and no under-floor engines they are a whole lot more comfortable!
Virgin EastCoast certainly is promising many necessary improvements although a 5:22am service from Stirling and Falkirk may be just that wee bit too early (your report, 3 March). When the Club 55 was introduced all train operators in Scotland agreed to accept this ticket until the now defunct EastCoast withdrew from the system a few years back, thus denying many potential travellers, be they from Inverness or Aberdeen or even Berwick, the chance to enjoy the freedom of Scotland. Maybe Virgin EastCoast will speedily address this anomaly.
Colin C Maclean