Let’s get one thing straight. The Scottish governement couldn’t have re nationalised the railways if they had wanted to. The railways act 1993 prohibits the state from owning any part of the rail network. This is a reserved issue. It’s one of the many, many powers that we rejected when we voted no. For the railways to have been re-nationalised we would have to get the Westminster governement to repeal this act or at least that section. Given that the current coalition are taking things out of public ownership at a rate of knots this is simply not going to happen. Labour suggested in the summer that they might be more open to allowing the state to tender a bid for the franchise which is an improvement but it would still leave the state bidding against private companies.
If we do want to renationalise the railways what we now have to do is try and get more power over transport, including railways, devolved . This is being attempted but is being ignored by Westminster. Keith Brown, transport minister and canditate for SNP depute leader, has asked three times if this can be devolved and has been rejected so it seems like this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
The pressure on Westminster to develove more powers which should include power over the railways should and must be kept up if we want to nationalise the railways and a yougov poll at the end of last year showing that 66% of Brits think that we should proves that there is appitite for this and not just in Scotland.
The Dutch company who got the franchies Abellio are partly run by the Dutch state. The fact that a state owned company from another EU country can be allowed to bid and win is a bit of a joke when a state owned company from Britain can’t. They have promised a great deal. They will pay all their staff a living wage and provide roomier trains. They will also provide some £5 single inter-city tickets. I and other students paid upwards of £20 return from Glasgow to Edinburgh yesterday. Such a huge retuction would be welcomed by many especially if there is better or a similar level of service. The Scottish government definitely seem to have picked a good deal and if we experience better service and reduced prices people will quickly stop complaining.
The franchise will run for ten years and includes a break half way through. Perhaps by then we will have more control over our railways and be able to consider re-nationalisation in a proper way.