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To operate Scotland's national railway was recognised by us as one of the most prestigious opportunities since the company was established in 2002.
The importance of the visitor economy was a significant part of our bid for ScotRail because we understand that Scotland's railway is as a major contributor to the country's flourishing tourism industry. Scotland is known for having some of the most picturesque rail journeys in the world. The Highland lines offer an array of spectacular journeys with unforgettable views of rolling mountains, tranquil lochs and rugged coastline.
As the Highlands is an important economic generator for Scotland's economy, of which the railway has a major part to play, we plan to offer a much enhanced Great Scenic Railway offer - supporting growth in Scotland's vital tourism market, improving Scotland's reputation, preserving Scotland's historic sites and widening access to Scotland's great outdoors. To enhance this development we are recruiting a tourism manager and staff will act as tourism ambassadors to ScotRail for the first time.
It is our promise to make a difference to communities and businesses across Scotland by providing opportunities for growth. In addition to developing tourism, the Highlands needs true inter-city connectivity to drive economic growth by linking it to Scotland's other cities.
As part of our investment in Scotland and as a major supporter of Scotland's economy we see our role not only in providing jobs in towns and cities across the country but by connecting businesses and people by improving the capacity of Scotland's railway to deliver the aspirations of Scottish Ministers. The Highlands will benefit from a true intercity network delivered by fully refurbished intercity trains which will be faster, higher-quality and specifically designed for long distances and better comfort. And we are making travel more affordable with special fares promotions such as the £5 off peak advanced fare from city to city.
Our most rural parts of Scotland that are served by rail and bus need an assurance on reliability of better connectivity, we are committed to ensuring Scotland's communities are served well – and to the highest of standard. We will work closely with Network Rail to achieve better performance from Scotland's railway. We will improve accessibility and affordability, we will integrate travel with seamless door-to-door journeys but crucially, every decision we take will have our customers at the heart – we put the customer first, second and third.
We have made a commitment to ourselves but more importantly to the people of Scotland to exceed the objectives that Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government have set for ScotRail. We are now looking forward to putting our words into action by delivering significant new benefits for rail passengers across Scotland.
Abellio beyond a-to-b
Please see our special ScotRail edition of the Abellio Way magazine here.