Published: 24th March 2016
Abellio ScotRail marks the completion of one year of its franchise on 31 March 2016 by becoming Scotland’s sixth largest Living Wage employer.
Scotland’s Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay MSP, made the announcement in Glasgow this month. By the time of the anniversary, preparations for the Scottish Parliament election on 5 May will be well in hand and Ministers will be constrained in what they say at that time.
ScotRail took the opportunity to highlight developments during the first year of the franchise, including the opening of the Borders Railway last September and the earlier creation of a “deep alliance” with Network Rail Scotland.
Mr Mackay said on 11 March 2016: “Scottish Ministers included Living Wage accreditation as one of the major commitments in the new ScotRail franchise agreement. It is pleasing that Abellio have today achieved this, it represents a satisfying end to a productive first year for Abellio as franchise holder.”
He added: “80.5 per cent of Scots employees now receive the Living Wage or higher and the benefits to businesses who do are shown to be significant, including increased staff morale, reduced absenteeism and higher levels of productivity. We need even more organisations to recognise those benefits and sign up for accreditation and help those on the lowest pay.
Mr Mackay concluded: “Scotland’s railways have never been more popular, with more people choosing to travel by rail and ScotRail on the way to running more trains and services than ever before. At the end of the first year of the new franchise, we can see Abellio ScotRail building a strong base for some hugely exciting initiatives that lie ahead, including new trains, more seats, quicker journeys, smart tickets and more flexible, better value fares for customers.”
Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, praised Abellio for joining the Living Wage Movement in Scotland. He added that paying the Living Wage was good for business as well as employees.
Mr Kelly concluded: “Today’s announcement means a pay rise for 150 employees, and we are pleased to have another important company leading by example.”
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said:
“While we are pleased with what we have achieved in the first year, we know that there is so much more to come. We will be delivering new and refurbished trains, more carriages, more seats and shorter journey times and we will continue to invest in our people so that they always do the very best for our customers.”
Mr Verster added: “Paying the Living Wage is a clear sign of our commitment to our people and a recognition of how much we value our role as one of Scotland’s largest employers.”
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: “We were given the responsibility a year ago to deliver the Scottish Government’s clear vision of the role of Scotland’s national railway in helping to drive the country’s economic development.”
Mr Booth concluded: “Abellio’s record of partnership working rests at the heart of our commitment and is demonstrated by a ‘deep alliance’ between ScotRail and Network Rail that is focused on the needs of passengers first, last and always.”
The current ScotRail franchise was started by Abellio on 1 April last year. It is the biggest single contract awarded by Scottish Ministers, worth more than £7 billion over ten years.
ScotRail employs 4,812 people, most of whom were already paid more than the Living Wage in advance of the announcement.
To add extra capacity to the network, three Class 320 electric trains have entered service in Scotland for the first time this week. These are the first of seven such trains moving north of the border in the next few months – adding 21 extra carriages and more than 14,000 extra seats to the ScotRail fleet.
“The refurbished trains that we have brought into service this week will provide extra capacity on the network during the closure. This will allow us to add extra carriages and make sure that we have enough trains – and enough seats – to keep people moving. Alongside our largest-ever Train Improvement Programme, this is another important step in our efforts to transform Scotland’s railway.”ScotRail Alliance Communications Director Rob Shorthouse with Train Crew Supervisor Jack Carden on board one of the Class 320 trains