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The London to Scotland sleeper service was tipped for renationalisation. rail industry

 

Circo will lose its contract to run the Caledonian Sleeper next year, the Scottish government has confirmed, with the troubled train service tipped for renationalisation.

The decision was welcomed by the governing Scottish National Party and the Greens as a possible opportunity to take the overnight operation that would put Scotland and London into public hands.

Cerco began operating the service in 2015 with substantial state investment to improve the fleet. However, the initial relaunch in 2019 proved to be a disaster, as new trains ran out of time and the service was heavily delayed. It has been facing sporadic disruption since the exhausted crew voted to strike before the Covid pandemic affected their business.

In a parliamentary reply, Scotland’s Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth, told MSP that she rejected Serco’s attempt to “rebase” the 15-year suffrage agreement “on the grounds of not representing value for money to the public”. and the Scottish Government minister on 25 June the following year gave notice to terminate the contract with the outsourced firm.

Gilruth said work was underway to determine who would run the operation thereafter, adding that Circo had “widely, well distributed and significantly improved Caledonian sleeper services over the past seven years”.

Existing UK rail law means that the government cannot simply renationalize the franchise, although a state operator of last resort may step in if a bidding competition does not find a new franchise.

The SNP said it was an opportunity to bring the Caledonian sleeper into public hands, as it did with Scotrel in April.

Commenting, SNP MSP Fiona Hislop said: “It is unfortunate that a deal has not been reached to continue the contract with Serco, but these contracts need to be given value for money to the Scottish public.

“The Scottish Government has already successfully brought Scotrail under public ownership and doing so with the Caledonian Sleeper provides an opportunity to continue improving the service provided to overnight commuters between Edinburgh and London.

“There will be a formal process that will need to be done, but it presents another opportunity to bring Scottish Railways into the hands of Scotland.”

Scottish Greens’ transport spokesman, Mark Ruskell, said it was “a logical opportunity”. He continued: “Particularly in times of acute financial hardship for people up and down the country, and when our climate actions have never been more important, this is a sensible and progressive idea that needs to be looked at.

“With an experienced, dedicated workforce and a strong customer base, it is time that our Railways address the needs of the passengers and not the bank balance of the shareholders.”

The London to Scotland sleeper service was tipped for renationalisation. rail industry

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