Sturgeon under fire as Scotland spends three times more on rail services than England – Yahoo news

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Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money after figures showed that Scotland is spending three times as much as England on keeping railway services running during Covid.

Holyrood has paid almost £60 for every passenger journey since the pandemic struck compared with £22 south of the border, according to analysis by The Telegraph.

In Scotland, this equates to £1.86 for every kilometre each passenger has travelled, compared with 69p in England.

Rail operators on both sides of the border were effectively nationalised to prevent them going bust during the first lockdown, costing billions of pounds of public money. Politicians are now struggling to work out how to handle the ongoing financial burden of running services, amid fears that mass commuting will never return after Covid.

Ms Sturgeon’s administration decided on Monday to keep its two operators on emergency rail contracts until the end of the year. By contrast, in Westminster operators have been transferred onto less lucrative terms to try to limit the burden on taxpayers.

MSP Graham Simpson, the Scottish Conservatives’ shadow transport minister, said: “Scottish taxpayers are shelling out three times more for an SNP rail service that hasn’t operated on a Sunday in seven months and plans to slash hundreds of services.

“Rail users aren’t seeing value for money and the SNP-Green government needs to ensure that under nationalisation the rail services work for the passenger, not the operator.”

The decision came as the SNP fights a bitter industrial dispute with the RMT guards union. Passengers have suffered weekend rail disruption for several months as a result.

In Westminster, the Department for Transport is under orders from the Treasury to cut a rail subsidy that has ballooned to more than £10bn across England. The burden on the public purse is to be reduced through an increase in demand as more commuters return to work, coupled with budget cuts.

Bosses in England are in talks with union leaders to axe thousands of jobs and reduce service levels in order to balance the books.

For political news, please click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/politics-matters/

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