Stagecoach (Rail Contracts)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 8th February 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

Stagecoach has failed to meet a number of contractual obligations in respect of the operation of the east coast main line service, which goes through my constituency and the constituencies of many members in the chamber. It has walked away from millions and millions of pounds’ worth of taxpayer obligations. Will the First Minister take this opportunity to join cross-party calls, started by Lord Adonis, to finally strip Stagecoach of that franchise in its entirety and ensure that it is prohibited from bidding for any future rail contracts in this country?

The First Minister:

I am delighted that Alex Cole-Hamilton seems to have just declared Scotland independent. Let me explain something to him. That franchise is not one that the Scottish Government is a party to. It is a United Kingdom Government franchise—it is clearly a franchise that it has made a mess of.

I agree that serious questions undoubtedly have to be asked of the operator, but also of the UK Government. Obviously, it is an issue that matters to many members of the Scottish travelling public, so we will continue to bring to bear whatever pressure we can to ensure that those questions are asked and answered. However, fundamentally, the franchise is a matter for the UK Government, so perhaps Alex Cole-Hamilton would like to put some pressure on it as well.