Saturday, 24 May 2008

Scottish Charter Trains

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has had something of a Damascene conversion to the private sector in recent years - much to the disgust of party members.

In 2006 the SNP's Party Conference in Perth voted to re-regulate bus services, echoing a commitment previously included in the 2003 manifesto. With SNP membership clearly behind the policy it seemed a dead cert to be included in the 2007 election manifesto.

However, just weeks before publication date, Stagecoach boss Brian Souter bunged the SNP a £500k personal donation. Surprise, surprise, when the manifesto appeared the bus re-regulation commitment was missing!

The SNP's membership is also passionate about rail renationalisation. Once again the party fought the 2003 election on a platform of bringing ScotRail "back under public control". And yet again the undertaking was missing from the 2007 manifesto.

The ScotRail franchise is currently operated by First Group, who have the unenviable record as Britain's most hated franchise operator (Worst Great Western, FuCC, etc...).

Imagine, therefore, the shock amongst the party faithful when on the 3rd April this year Transport Scotland awarded Worst Group a four year extension to its franchise without any form of public consultation.

According to industry newspaper Railnews the decision was defended by Scotland's Finance Minister John Swinney on the grounds that public consultation might have caused damage to First Group's share price!

By now it will be apparent that with the SNP in power at Holyrood almost anything is possible.

With this in mind The Fact Compiler is inclined to give slightly more credence than usual to sources suggesting Stagecoach & Serco are going into partnership with the Scottish Exec' to run Charter Trains.

The Fact Compiler would love to hear more from his friends up North....

It's the Railway what won it!

Tory Toff Tinson's stunning victory at Thursday's Crewe and Nantwich by-election may reveal a bigger seismic shift in the electorates attitude to the Tories than even New Labour fears.

Ever since the days of Blessed Margaret Hilda the railway industry has distrusted the Tory party. That relationship reached it's nadir after the "back to basics" adulterer Major Balls-up unleashed the most idiotic privatisation that the UK has ever seen (until the Big Grin's PPP of course).

For railwaymen the Tories were seen as beyond the pale. It was after all a Tory Government, in the run up to Privatisation, that starved the industry of new train orders for over a 1,000 days - resulting in train manufacturing towns like Crewe shedding thousands of railway jobs.

For a railway town to elect a Tory MP would have been unthinkable just 12 months ago.

Does this mean the railway now trusts the Tories?