ScotRail ticket offices under threat to help fund staff pay increase – The Scotsman

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Some ScotRail ticket offices could be closed or downgraded to help fund a pay rise for its 5,300 staff, The Scotsman has learned.

Other options believed to be being considered are cutting catering on trains, which has only been partially reinstated after being suspended due to the Covid pandemic.

They come as ScotRail’s four unions today rejected a 2.2 per cent increase tied to efficiency savings.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) announced a strike ballot over pay on Wednesday.

Engineers in the Unite union started industrial action last Friday.

There was speculation that ticket offices under threat of closure could include Burntisland, Kinghorn and Cowdenbeath in Fife and Easterhouse in Glasgow.

Others could see their opening hours reduced, but staff would be redeployed as ScotRail has a no compulsory redundancies policy.

An industry source said ScotRail’s ticket offices had not been reviewed for at least 15 years and some were very little used.

They said the number of closures might be “very small”, perhaps as few as three.

In a report published in August, Professor Iain Docherty of the University of Stirling, the country’s leading transport academic, questioned “whether legacy business activities such as the provision of ticket offices is viable in future”.

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Scottish Government ministers ‘have not visited’ Edinburgh Airport to discuss Covid recovery – The Scotsman

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No Scottish Government ministers have visited Edinburgh Airport to discuss the impact of the pandemic, its chief executive has said, as he published a report calling for action to assist the industry’s recovery.

Chief executive Gordon Dewar called for government action over issues such as a discrepancy between Covid testing for passengers between Scotland and England, as well as a “meaningful engagement” with the industry, as the airport unveiled a report submitted to the Scottish Government earlier this year.

Mr Dewar said that Skyscanner search data shows airports in the north of England have already seen a surge of interest in bookings since the testing regime was loosened by Westminster – with no similar increase in Scotland.

In The Importance of Aviation to Scotland’s Economic Success, submitted to the government in July, but released publicly for the first time today, Mr Dewar warned the knock-on economic effects from a lack of recovery in the sector could be wide ranging.

He said the airport’s recovery could be delayed by three years if quick action was not taken.

Mr Dewar said the airport had hoped to return to 2019 levels by 2023, but said that without action, it could take until 2026 to return to pre-pandemic levels.

He said: “We’re hoping the government sees sense [about testing]. It doesn’t achieve anything, doing something different and you just get this cross border transfer. Even waiting six or seven days to make up your mind, costs, people are booking now. Days matter in terms of recovery.”

He said no Scottish Government ministers had visited the airport, which is still losing £2 million a month, down from £4m a month at the peak of the pandemic, to discuss the impact of Covid and added he was looking forward to working with Green MSPs in the new coalition government.

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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.

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New CalMac Islay ferries will not be built in Scotland – STV news

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Two new ferries for Islay will not be made in Scotland after four shipyards from elsewhere were invited to tender for the contract.

More than 30 organisations expressed an interest in taking on the job and 11 entered submissions that Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) said were “rigorously” assessed.

But only four companies, one from Romania, another from Poland and two in Turkey, reached the final stage of the procurement process.

A decision on which shipyard will win the job will be made before the end of March 2022, CMAL said.

The Islay route is one of the busiest services for freight on the Clyde and Hebrides network, and it was decided to contract two new ferries after discussions with Transport Scotland, ferry operator CalMac and communities on the island.

This week CMAL announced that the new vessels will be built at either Damen Shipyard in Romania, Remontowa Shipbuilding in Poland, or one of the Turkish shipyards Sefine Denizcilik Tersanecilik Turizm or Cemre Marin Endustri.

The procurement process for new ferries has come under scrutiny recently because of issues with two vessels from the publicly-owned Ferguson Marine shipyard in Inverclyde.

Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee described the process as a “catastrophic failure”.

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A77 through South Ayrshire ‘not fit for purpose’ amid fresh calls for upgrade of network – Daily Record

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resh calls have been made to either ‘upgrade’ or ‘replace’ parts of the road network through Ayrshire.

The appeal follows the tragic deaths of a 78-year-old woman and a 57-year-old lorry driver in two separate incidents last Tuesday on the A714 and the A77.

Now the A77 Action Group is demanding that the Scottish Government bring Ayrshire’s trunk road network up to scratch.

Donald McHarrie, group coordinator, said: “Tuesday brought tragedy with two deaths, and total mayhem, to the A77 and the A714 Girvan to Newton Stewart road.

“The A77 and A714 were both blocked due to serious road traffic accidents. The A714 became blocked after the A77 traffic was diverted along it.

“The southern section of the A77 trunk road closely follows the route it did in 1776, so basically it’s an old droving track.

Scotland could miss out on £20m for road and rail links – STV news

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Scotland could miss out on £20m to help boost road and rail links because of the “disappointing” response from Holyrood ministers to a nationwide transport review, it has been claimed.

Scotland Office minister David Duguid hit out at the “lack of engagement” from Nicola Sturgeon’s government to the Union Connectivity Review (UCR).

The review, being led by Sir Peter Hendy – the current chairman of Network Rail and former commissioner of Transport for London (TfL) – will look at transport infrastructure across the UK, considering where future spending could be targeted.

At the end of June, the UK Government promised £100m would be invested across England to improve the quality of local roads – helping local economies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aviation bosses threaten to quit Scottish Government working group over Covid-19 test costs – The Scotsman

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