ScotRail trains

UK: With its existing Emergency Measures Agreement due to expire at the end of March, ScotRail has confirmed that is currently in discussions with the Scottish Government about a third agreement.

Support of around £108m has been provided under the current agreement which runs from January 11. The new EMA is expected to run through to March 2022, reflecting a view that it will take some time for passenger numbers to return to any sort of normality.

Sources within ScotRail note the recognition at government level of the importance of maintaining essential services despite any commercial imperatives. One senior manager told Rail Business UK ‘the political support is there; we have received good comments about the way services have been maintained and the way ScotRail has communicated with passengers.’

It is being assumed that commuting volumes will be reduced for a significant time, possibly permanently; the government and the operator are therefore looking at how timetables can be adjusted with a less pronounced peak and providing more capacity for tourism and leisure services.

‘A lot of really positive things have come out of what we’ve all been forced into over the past year because of Covid-19, particularly in terms of a much more collaborative approach’, the insider explained. ‘This includes things like being able to change timetables much more rapidly and building better performance into them; reacting to different dynamics in demand. The hope is that we keep some of those going forward and don’t lapse back into the old ways’.