On Thursday, the British public will head to the polls and elect a new Government. Come the weekend, whichever party – or parties – take up residence in Whitehall will be faced with a myriad of challenges, ranging from immigration to the economy and Europe to local government. What’s most important to us, though, is transport.
We’ve pored over all the major parties’ manifestos and have extracted their key transport policies. Have a read and take a look at all the possible futures for Scottish transport.
While Ed Miliband’s Labour has promised to allow a public sector rail operator to compete for new lines, Jim Murphy’s Scottish Labour has gone one further and pledged to renationalise the railways – sort of.
Scottish Labour are proposing replacing the ScotRail franchise with the People’s ScotRail, a “non-profit, public sector operator running our trains.” All profits would be reinvested into the service, rather than released to shareholders.
The ScotRail franchise is currently operated by Abellio, a company owned by the Dutch government. Labour argue that the current arrangement sees Scottish commuters supporting public services in the Netherlands and not at home.
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said:
“I want to see better, cheaper public transport. The Smith Agreement means we can have a ScotRail that is serving commuters, not shareholders.
“The current ScotRail franchise sees money going straight from the public purse to shareholders pockets. The incoming one will see Scottish public money support transport infrastructure in Holland. Neither deal is the best deal for Scotland when commuters are waiting on late running services, paying over inflated fares whilst being squeezed against train doors on overcrowded journeys.
“The best deal for Scotland is a People’s ScotRail, a railway company whose commitment is not to a group of shareholders or a foreign Government, but to the people of Scotland.”
Rail unions have cautiously welcomed the pledge. RMT called it a step in the right direction but reiterated its support for full nationalisation of the railway. Driver’s union Aslef praised the sentiment but criticised its scope.
The Scottish Conservatives are are weighing heavily on infrastructure. Infrastructure, says their manifesto, underpins all aspects life: you rely on infrastructure to go to school, to grow businesses and to create jobs. Strong infrastructure makes strong for a strong economy.
The Conservatives are promising a £100 billion investment over the next Parliament, focusing on three key infrastructure objectives:
- invest in infrastructure to attract businesses and good jobs across the whole of the UK;
- make your life easier, with more and faster trains, more roads and cycle routes;
- roll out universal broadband and better mobile phone connections, to ensure everyone is part of the digital economy.
Additionally, the Conservatives have pledged to create a transport capital fund to encourage new networks and a Road Maintenance Fund to support Scottish councils keep up with mounting road repair bills. Quite how sizeable either fund would be is unclear but to make a dent in either the extensive repair list or brand new networks, they would need to be in the billions.