By Bill Heaney
Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed that more than £130,000 was spent on taxis to replace cancelled or late rail services in the first six months since ScotRail was taken into government hands.
A freedom of information request submitted by Scottish Liberal Democrats to ScotRail revealed that the total amount paid to private taxi and hire vehicle services for replacing a cancelled rail service between April and September 2022 was £137,309.91.
The single most expensive journey was a fare from Wick to Inverness calling at all stops in between. The cost of this was £798.30.
Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Jill Reilly, above, said: “This is an astonishing sum of money for newly nationalised ScotRail to have shelled out in just six months.
“Even worse, it comes hot on the heels of the news that the service has racked up more than £400,000 in payments to rail users for delays.
“This is money that should be available for cutting fares and updating trains, carriages and stations.
“Commuters and rail users need a quality service that they can rely on if we are to tempt people out of private cars. The Scottish Government must work with ScotRail to cut down on their reliance on replacement transport services and deliver the rail service that taxpayers and travellers pay for.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to delivering a public transport system that works for all communities, for all ages, and for the climate. That’s why we want to see fares cut, new options for two/three-day a week season tickets and for the government to work with councils to explore new lines, particularly in areas where public transport links are poor.”
The total amount paid to private taxi and hire vehicle services for replacing a cancelled rail service broken down by each month from April to September 2022 is outlined below:
The single highest taxi fare was from Wick to Inverness calling at all stops in between. The cost of this was £798.30.
Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for:
- All peak rail fares to be scrapped for young people
- The railcard discount to be increased to 50% for everyone under 30
- The reversal of the SNP/Green rail fares hike
- Ticketing options to reflect new models of hybrid working with the option for two/three-day a week season tickets
- The government to look at new routes such as Alloa to Dunfermline, Grangemouth, St Andrews, Borders railway to Carlisle, Peterhead, Edinburgh’s Abbeyhill Loop and South Suburban and other lines where local people have lobbied ministers
More cheap shout rattle a few statistics from the Liberal Democrats so called Transport spokesperson whoever she is.
Quite frankly £130,000 for taxis is a drop in the ocean. I’m not exactly sure but the basic running of the Network Rail Service in Scotland costs I think something over £1,100 million a year comprising around half fare income and half governmental subsidy. No doubt a rail travel economist could explain better and in more detail. The costs will when all other areas are considered be more again.
But the issue is railways are expensive to run and £130,000 in taxis is ultra small beer in the scheme about. Gives you an idea of the cerebral capacity of this Liberal democrat spokesperson. Empty barrels and all that. Sadly there are too many, in too many of all of our parties like that.
But there is an even bigger question than the basic running of a Network Rail Service and that is that of required investment. Huge swathes of our rail network is antiquated Victorian infrastructure. One only need look at the thousands, and I mean thousands of Victorian structures that sit under our rail network. Many need replaced and replacement is expensive. Replacing stations is also expensive. Upgrading to electricity is also expensive. Just look at the cost of the HS2 in England. Phase One for around 134 miles of track is forecast at around £70,000,000,000 alone or £70 billion, and that excludes the other phases and trains and train operation. Just think if Scotland were to upgrade it’s rail network like the south of England is doing. But Scotland isn’t England, and doesn’t have Jill Reilly to get in about the costs of taxi fares.
So well done the Lib Dems. It would be unkind to call the piece a pygmy piece.
But that I suppose is why England is spending hundreds of billions on building its HS2 network, and why Scotland, or at least some of Scotland’s finest, obsess about a £783 taxi fare. Like Campbell’s condensed soup, the difference is in the …….well you know the rest.
And Nationalisation of the rail network. I think it is something long overdue. But wouldn’t it be gret of Scotland could get the huge levels of investment being given to England’s HS2. A game changer for jobs, our economy and our infrastructure.