Coronavirus: Funding for rail services extended

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Emergency funding to assist Scotland’s rail services address the affect of coronavirus is to be extended.

Both the ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises have seen passenger numbers decline sharply since lockdown started in March.

The present six-month help package deal has price an estimated £250m.

Scottish ministers have now extended this Emergency Measures Agreement (EMA) to January, at an anticipated price of £100m.

Michael Matheson, cupboard secretary for transport, mentioned the transfer would guarantee rail services proceed and supply stability for railway staff.

Despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, ScotRail’s passenger numbers stay 70% down year-on-year despite the fact that the variety of services it operates has returned to close regular ranges.

The degree of help given by the Scottish authorities reduces consistent with any improve in income ScotRail generates.

However, underneath the phrases of the EMA, franchise operators Abellio and Serco are each entitled to “administration and efficiency charges” of as much as 2% if efficiency targets are met.

Ensure stability

Mr Matheson mentioned talks over a long term plan for the franchises will start shortly.

He mentioned: “The EMA briefly various the franchise agreements with the intention to minimise disruption to rail passengers and staff through the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Given the extraordinarily difficult budgetary place and the present uncertainty as to consequential from the UK authorities, the agreements can be in place till January 2021.

“This will guarantee rail services proceed and in addition present stability for staff, passengers and suppliers at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.”

Alex White, ScotRail’s chief working officer, added: “Extending this important authorities help scheme is a serious enhance for ScotRail employees, who’ve labored tirelessly to maintain individuals shifting through the latest crucial months.

“The degree of job safety supplied to ScotRail employees means we are able to proceed to ship a significant service for these tackling the pandemic and help the financial restoration.”

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