A national asset for people, communities and business
In many ways, the new ScotRail franchise represents a landmark, not just for the railway and its passengers, but for Scotland as a whole. Ministers and Transport Scotland have made clear that it will no longer be sufficient for the national rail company to concentrate simply on running an efficient train service. Their intention is that ScotRail will become a national asset which the country can be rightly proud of for its part in helping to build prosperity, better quality of life and a fairer society throughout Scotland.
It means Abellio will take on a new range of responsibilities when we start running the franchise in April, and that we will have to think very differently about the way ScotRail does business. We will need to support economic growth and job creation in towns and cities across the country by improving the speed and capacity of our rail service wherever possible. Ticket prices must be more affordable so that young people can find work, retired people can enjoy their leisure time and everyone has greater opportunity. We will also need to make sure we play a leading role in protecting the environment and in showcasing innovative technology which others may later adopt.
As a major national company, a key part of our task will involve ensuring everything we do benefits communities throughout Scotland. We need to make sure stations become true community facilities – not just a place where rail passengers wait for the train. We also need to make sure we take opportunities to help local businesses along our routes, and Small to Medium Enterprises in other parts of the country, to grow. In addition, we can have a real influence on the way towns and cities develop. Based on our experience in the Netherlands, we will set up expert teams to help housebuilders design estates with better walking and cycling routes to stations, and we will work with bus companies and councils to create more joined-up transport networks.
There is also an exciting opportunity for us to use the beauty of many of the country's railway lines to further increase awareness across the globe of Scotland's heritage, scenery and sporting facilities.
Can a railway really achieve these ambitions? We know it can. We have spent over two years speaking to people, businesses, the tourist industry and councils the length and breadth of Scotland to get their views and think about how we can work together. It means we understand what we need to do to play our part in helping to achieve ministers' vision for the nation.
How ScotRail will support ministers' vision for the nation
The government's Purpose for the nation is to create a more succesful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. We have designed our plans for the new ScotRail franchise to fully support this Purpose, focusing on the Government's five key objectives: