Survey says Holyrood needs full control of Scotland’s railways

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A new independent report on railway management in Scotland to be published tomorrow is said to show “clear support” for Scottish Government oversight of the entire system.

Written by former UK transport Minister Tom Harris, the study, “Is Scotland on the right track?” concludes six in ten people believe all decisions about the Scottish railway network should be taken by organisations overseen by the Scottish Government.

Tom Harris, now an independent transport consultant, says people see devolution as “an operational, not political issue”.

The report is said to have found that less that one in five people “know a lot” about either Network Rail or Abellio Scotland, and that there is “massive confusion” about who owns and runs the different aspects of the railways in Scotland.

Tom Harris said:“The public and political debate about the future of Scotland’s railways has suffered from confusion about who is responsible for what.

“This tends to lead to politicised solutions to any perceived problems which, more often than not, are informed by ideology rather than reality.

“This research, however, makes it clear that the public is focussed on operations rather than politics.

“Public support for the operational devolution of Network Rail is clear, with less than one third favouring the status quo and six in ten favouring a clear structure under the control of the Scottish Government.

“This is not a political or constitutional issue. It is simply about how to best run our railways.”