John calls for public ownership of ScotRail as fares rise again

Railways back in public ownership: Not for profit; Improved services; Reduced fares. After the announcement of another increase in ScotRail fares, John Finnie has urged the Scottish Government to move quickly to bring rail services back into public ownership.

As the Scottish Greens’ spokesperson on transport, John wrote to Transport Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP, pledging the support of all 6 Green MSPs for early legislation that would pave the way for an end to the disastrous privatisation of our national railway.

John said:

“Unfortunately most of us come to expect, and begrudgingly accept, an annual rise in peak ticket prices. Last year’s rise was one percent and with this 1.9 percent rise announcement, it highlights the need for action to be taken to make commuting in Scotland more affordable.

“We can expect these fare increases to undermine our goals of increasing social inclusion, encouraging traffic off the roads and onto the railway, and softening the impact of the UK’s pro-austerity and anti-EU politics on the budgets of ordinary Scots.

“With a privatised ScotRail, ticket prices are driven by the profit motive, not the public interest. ScotRail passengers, and those priced off the rails altogether, are suffering as a result.

“Despite the price increases, the corporate urge to cut corners has put train guards’ jobs under threat. I hope at least that ScotRail will listen to the RMT union and keep the guards on the trains; anything else would be putting profit ahead of safety.

“Privatised railways are an enormous failed experiment. I’ll be writing to the transport minister to offer my support to the government for putting Scotland’s railway back in public hands.”

You can read John’s letter to the Transport Minister below

:Fergus Letter Page 1Fergus Letter Page 2

John appointed to two Holyrood committees

Large committee room in the Scottish Parliament
Photo: Adam Elder / Scottish Parliament
John Finnie has been appointed to the Scottish Parliament’s committees on Justice and on Rural Economy and Connectivity.

John has served on the Justice Committee since 2011, drawing on his experience as a former Northern Constabulary police officer. Most notably, he used Justice Committee hearings to hold Police Scotland to account over officers carrying firearms while on routine duties – a campaign for which he received the title of Community MSP of the Year at the 2014 Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.

His appointment to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee – which is also responsible for transport, agriculture and the Islands – reflects John’s new role as the Scottish Greens’ spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Rural & Island Communities, as well as remaining the party’s spokesperson on Justice.

John said:

“I’m delighted to be appointed for a second term on the Justice Committee, where my priorities will include restoring the community ethos to Scottish policing, and defending our hard-won human rights.

“Joining the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee is an exciting opportunity to push for the investment the Highlands and Islands needs to make the most of our huge potential in sustainable industries like food, forestry and clean energy.”

The Committees are a vital part of the Scottish Parliament. Holyrood only has one chamber – it has no equivalent of the House of Lords – so the Committees are responsible for making sure proposed new laws, and the work of the government, are scrutinised in detail. Committees can also conduct inquiries into issues within their policy area, calling witnesses including government ministers and officials, outside experts, and people who are directly affected.

The six Green MSPs were appointed to a total of 11 Committee places. The other Green assignments are:

  • Ross Greer (West Scotland) — European and External Relations Committee; Education and Skills Committee
  • Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) — Finance Committee; Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee
  • Alison Johnstone (Lothian) — Health and Sport Committee; Social Security Committee
  • Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) — Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee
  • Andy Wightman (Lothian) — Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee; Local Government and Communities Committee

You can see the full line-up for all of the new committees in the Scottish Parliament Official Report.