Meeting of the Cross Party Group on Rail in the Scottish Parliament

Tuesday, 3rd February 2015, 5.30 pm Holyrood

On the day a small group of us attended the meeting as we were interested in what was to be presented by the new chief executive of Abellio.

Mike Kean then spoke on the subject of the new ScotRail franchise that is due to be operated by Abellio from 1 April 2015. He outlined the successful bid that Abellio had made for the franchise and spoke of the reasoning behind it and the vision for the future of Scotland’s railway. He highlighted the importance of integration with other modes of transport and customer benefits. He said that Abellio had started stakeholder engagement in October 2012 to prepare for the bid. New electric trains had been ordered and in addition a fully refurbished fleet of inter-city trains would be delivered.

There would be a “deep alliance” with Network Rail. The aim was to transform the network. The management approach would be “the Abellio way”. The refurbished fleet of high-speed inter-city trains would have power doors, improved comfort, compliance with regulations for passengers with reduced mobility and on-train catering. Capacity would be increased by 20 per cent and there would be an “uplift” of the 1st Class service.

Savings in journey-time would include 12 minutes from Inverness to Edinburgh and Glasgow. As part of the programme of transforming the quality of Scotland’s rail services, refurbished Class 158 trains, with interior layouts modelled on those currently on trains on the Far North Line, would serve tourist lines. There would be “refreshed” Class 156 trains for South West Scotland. There would be a series of apps to help passengers. Abellio would introduce their system of “bike-and-go” cycle hire. A Smart Card would be developed.

At question time:
After a brief introduction of our plight I asked if it was Abellio’s intention to bring the stretch of line between Lockerbie & Carstairs Junction into the Scotrail network and highlighted the absence of a station serving the Beattock/Moffat area left a big gap in the network.

“Mr Kean said Abellio would stop at stations where there was a case to do so.”

In the run up to the new franchise Abellio, when they met with us, were impressed with our business case and agreed to work with the Beattock Station Action Group should they be the chosen operator. We look forward to a further conversation with them.

Martin Brown