A Dutch company has been awarded the contract to operate the Scotland’s national railway, Scotrail. Abellio has won the £6bn franchise to run Scotrail services for the next decade, beating the current Aberdeen-based operator, FirstGroup.
But, what is Abellio?
Is an international company, subsidiary of the state-owned Ducth Railways. In fact, Abellio won a 25-year franchise to operate Merseyrail, so it has been ferrying UK commuter since 2003. Also, NS, Abellio’s parent company, which is behind the ICE International, Eurostar and TGV high-speed services, owns services that sprawl through Europe Dutch commuter.
How is it possible that a Dutch company run UK railway?
In early 2000, Abellio partnered with Bristish-based outsourcing company Serco, and promptly won the Merseyrail franchise and bought London Bus from National Express in 2009. In fact, the company now runs services in west, south and central London. It also owns a British train operating company that travel from London to Norwich, Cambridge, Colchester or many more.
Reaction has benn mixed, but the Scottish government said it was a “world-leading contract” which would transform rail services. Thus, Abellio and FirstGroup weren’t the only contenders competing for the ScotRail franchise.
Scottish Ministers set certain policy objectives about value for money, quality of service, environmental performance and passenger satisfaction. Transport Scotland was responsible for the final decision, and said that Abellio had come up with some truly innovative ways to make rail even more affordable.
Among the improvements which Abellio have pledged to carry out are:
- Fares between any two Scottish cities starting at £5.
- Free wifi internet connection on all trains
- Reduced fares for jobseekers
- 23% more carriages across the network
- Protection of rail staff pensions and travel rights
- At least hundred apprenticeships
ScotRail is responsible for 78 million passenger journey every year, so from April next year, when the contract starts, lots of Scots will be feeling the change. However, the government can cancel the contract if Abellio fails to meet this obligation in 2020.