Rail Infrastructure Spending

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 February 2024.

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Photo of Richard Leonard Richard Leonard Labour

I remind members of my voluntary entry in the register of interests.

Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers are rallying outside Parliament today against a £315 million cut to Scotland’s safety-critical rail infrastructure spending. They say, “Rail cuts cost lives.” Seventy front-line maintenance workers have just been made redundant and a further 80 jobs are now at risk.

Which is correct: the Government’s assertion to Parliament that rail infrastructure spending is rising, or the view of experienced railway workers who are out there in the real world, on the front line, which is supported by all the empirical evidence, that Scotland’s rail infrastructure budgets and jobs are being axed and that, as a result, the health and safety of workers and passengers is being put at risk?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

We, as the Government, and the Cabinet Secretary for Transport will have regular engagement with rail trade unions, including the RMT. Investment in rail infrastructure is rising, as the Cabinet Secretary for Transport has outlined. We appreciate and share the RMT’s view that rail safety should absolutely be prioritised, but we do not agree with its assertion that rail infrastructure funding is being cut.

We will continue to meet the trade unions regularly, and my understanding is that the cabinet secretary recently wrote to the RMT to address some of the assertions that it made in previous correspondence. We will continue to engage where we can and to make sure that rail safety is an utmost priority not just for our staff—that is crucial, of course—but for those who use the rail network. Safety continues to be an utmost priority for this Government.