Motion S4M-11887: Murdo Fraser, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014
Supporting RMT's No Sewage on the Tracks Campaign
That the Parliament notes calls from the RMT union to end by April 2016 the practice of dumping raw sewage directly onto rail lines from rolling stock; understands that rail workers are often sprayed with raw sewage as a result of this practice; notes that retention tanks are due to be fitted on all ScotRail trains by December 2017; recognises that the RMT's No Sewage on the Tracks campaign is calling on Abellio to make the retrofitting of retention tanks a priority when the Dutch company takes over the franchise in April 2015; considers that the dumping of raw sewage so close to where people live and work would not be tolerated by any other industry, and supports the RMT in its campaign.
Supported by: Liz Smith, Jamie McGrigor, Nanette Milne, Alex Johnstone, Hugh Henry, Jean Urquhart, Drew Smith, Patricia Ferguson, Richard Lyle, Neil Findlay, Mary Scanlon, Cameron Buchanan, Jackie Baillie, John Wilson, Cara Hilton, Annabel Goldie, Kenneth Gibson, Ken Macintosh, Margaret Mitchell, Elaine Smith, Anne McTaggart, Linda Fabiani, Michael McMahon, Colin Beattie, John Finnie.
The following questions received some positive responses from the Scottish Government. Let's hope the DfT and Stagecoach/Virgin play ball.
Question S4W-23610: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the UK Government to ensure that the new franchise for the East Coast rail route will provide a higher level of hot food availability for passengers north of Edinburgh on the Highland Chieftain service between King's Cross and Inverness.
Answered by Derek Mackay (23/12/2014): In December 2012 the Scottish Government provided a letter of advice to the UK Government on its requirements of the InterCity East Coast franchise. This included advice on the need for continued and improved catering provision for passengers travelling north of Edinburgh.
The advice notes 'the particular requirements of the long distance market in terms of catering and passenger comfort and amenity', and that 'services to Scotland (particularly to Aberdeen and Inverness) are amongst the longest passenger rail services in the UK, and notes the need for enhanced luggage space and catering over these routes'.
In summary, the advice argues that 'it is important that a full catering offer is retained on services to Scotland, and that offer recognises that some services extend more than three hours beyond Edinburgh'.
However, the Scottish Government does not have the powers to direct the franchisee. The InterCity East Coast franchise is specified and let by the UK Government.
Question S4W-23611: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will raise with the new East Coast franchisee the need for all InterCity Express trains to be used between King's Cross and Inverness to be built with the galley option to service hot food to all passengers.
Answered by Derek Mackay (23/12/2014): As noted in my response to the answer to question S4W-23610 on 23 December 2014, we have provided comprehensive advice to the Department for Transport on this issue. Officials have also discussed this requirement with all bidders for the InterCity East Coast franchise in advance of their bids.
Information received from the Department for Transport indicates that InterCity Express trains will be built with a galley to provide hot food to all passengers, although we have not seen the full detail of the winning bid for InterCity East Coast, and await confirmation of this point.
We will pursue this issue directly in discussions with the new franchisee.
Question S4W-23612: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will seek assurances from the new rail franchisee that the new InterCity Express trains will be sufficiently powerful to climb the gradients between Perth and Inverness at the same speed as the current models on this route.
Answered by Derek Mackay (23/12/2014): We do not currently have information on the sectional running times of the InterCity Express trains over the Perth to Inverness route. We are aware of concerns about the performance of these trains, as you have highlighted, and have sought clarification from the Department for Transport.
We will raise the performance of these trains in discussion with the new franchisee.
Question S4W-23613: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will demand that the Highland Chieftain Inverness to King's Cross service will be allocated a nine coach set throughout the year once the new InterCity Express trains are introduced and not limited to a five coach set in winter.
Answered by Derek Mackay (23/12/2014): Yes. We have had broad assurance from the Department for Transport (DfT) that the current levels of service provision will be maintained in the new InterCity East Coast franchise.
Specific advice from DfT, however, is that there is no specific obligation on the new East Coast franchisee to deploy specific set formations on any given route; the new franchise agreement will place an obligation on the franchise operator to utilise the Intercity Express Programme fleet in a way that best meets demand.
We will reiterate our view that current levels of provision must be fully maintained in our discussions with the new franchisee.