New Labour's Rail Policy Stuck In The Sidings
Speaking after Prime Minister's Question Time in the Commons today [Wednesday], which was dominated by the rail crisis, the Scottish National Party's Westminster Transport Spokesperson Mr Pete Wishart MP said:
"Instead of our railway system moving forward, New Labour's rail policy is stuck in the sidings.
"It is three months since Railtrack was declared financially unviable. But instead of a clear timetable for getting our rail assets out of administration and into a not-for-profit trust – which is a central aspect of putting the entire industry back on track – the Tory/Labour scrapping at Westminster is all about whether or not a defective Minister will be forced out of the Cabinet. That is not nearly good enough.
"What the SNP are demanding for Scotland is an independent Scottish Public Rail Investment Trust [SPRINT], to secure the maximum investment in Scottish rail on a not-for-profit basis. That is what we should be moving towards, but the Government's rail policy doesn't seem to be going anywhere just now. There are still no guarantees that even a UK-wide not-for-profit trust will be established.
"At present, Scotland could get NOTHING from the Government's 7 billion pounds modernisation fund. As ever when anything is decided at Westminster, the demands of London and the South East will come first.
"When we are supposed to be having a fundamental rethink of the entire rail structure, it makes absolute sense for an independent Scottish Rail Trust to be established. And since both Tory and New Labour governments have made such a mess of rail policy, we also need the complete transfer of rail powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament."