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The Far North Railway line must not be forgotten by new ScotRail franchise operator Abellio, this is the message according to Scottish Labour candidate and far north railway campaigner, John Erskine, following a stakeholders seminar today on the issues facing the line organised by HITRAN, the regional transport partnership for the North of Scotland to help restore rail users faith in the failing line. 

 

John Erskine PPC who attended the event with fellow campaigner Rhoda Grant MSP commented: 

"HITRANS deserve credit for acknowledging the many issues affecting the far north line and for bringing representatives from First ScotRail and Network Rail to Dingwall, before the stakeholders group to take questions and provide answers to the now prolonged spate of disruption." 

"Ironically on the same day as the seminar there was multiple failures and cancellations on the line leading to severe travel disruption for many, further compounding the issues and providing yet more evidence the service needs to be top of new rail operator Abellio's improvement to do list. 

"This was a bad start for Abellio in the far north, given that they sent apologies, rather than attend the seminar and hear from stakeholders first hand.

"Abellio and the franchise bid director were happy to come to Inverness last week and tell us about improvements to Inverness stations and to those travelling between Inverness and Aberdeen or Edinburgh and Glasgow, however when it comes down to the far north, it looks like its been forgotten again by our soon to be rail operator."

"The Scottish Government made a deal with the Dutch that suits the central belt but forgets the far north. I'm glad HITRANS and local stakeholders are meeting early and will hold their feet to the fire for improvements to the curcially important far north line".

FAR NORTH RAIL LINE MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN - ERSKINE

The Far North Railway line must not be forgotten by new ScotRail franchise operator Abellio, this is the message according to Scottish Labour candidate and far north railway campaigner, John Erskine, following a stakeholders...

John Erskine, Scottish Labour Candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has slammed the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) accusing it of losing the right to call itself a national police force.

 

Mr Erskine made this claims in response to the announcement today (Monday 2 March 2015) that the SPA board will no longer hold meetings outside the central belt.

John Erskine said:

“This is a truly disappointing decision.  The SPA should be accountable to the all Scottish communities, yet this only seems to ring true if you are based in the central belt.  Currently the board has only one member from the Highlands.  Surely if the board as a whole wants to represent a broad range views, its members should visit the Highlands and make themselves accessible to local people and their representatives.  The debacle over routinely arming officers demonstrates how vital it is that the communities are heard from on a regular basis.  Instead the SPA is making it more difficult for our communities to have their say.  By restricting meetings to the central belt, the SPA is losing the right to call itself a nationwide police force.   This decision is further demonstration that the SNP Government’s obsession with centralisation is making public services less accountable to the people they serve. “

LABOUR CANDIDATE CRITICISES SPA BOARD CENTRAL BELT DECISION

John Erskine, Scottish Labour Candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has slammed the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) accusing it of losing the right to call itself a national police...

Scottish Labour candidate John Erskine has expressed his disappointment at the lack of planed improvements for the Far North Line by new Scotrail franchise operator Abellio who will run the franchise from April 1st. 

 

Mr Erskine, who is contesting the seat of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, expressed this disappointment after he attend a stakeholder engagement meeting hosted by Abellio and HITRANS, where a presentation by Abellio ScotRail bid director Mike Kean was given followed by questions. The meeting was also attended by representatives from rail user groups, local business interests and Councillors.

Mr Erskine said:

"Abellio presented their plans for the franchise today in Inverness and what was clear was that the Far North Line once again was an afterthought. 

"Whilst I welcome plans by Abellio to improve the Far North Line for tourist users, through improved window seating and the installation of tourism ambassadors onboard and a commitment to capitalising on further tourist investment through the use of steam trains to Dunrobin, for the ordinary train user on the far north line there was little to celebrate." 

"Local people are more than aware that there are serious issues with our line.  Yet I am failing to see anything substantial that will address the problems of trains failing to turn up, regularly running late or anything to shorten the journey.  The Far North Line needs real investment.  I will work with my Labour colleagues to continue to push for these improvements and I am arranging a meeting with Abellio to make this case in person. "

"The Scottish Government have struck a deal that once again is more beneficial to the central belt cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow and have failed to deliver for rural and remote areas in the far north." 

"In the meantime, I would encourage as many local people as possible to sign my petition calling for improvements.  It can be found at www.change.org/p/scotrail-abellio-to-make-improvements-to-the-far-north-line.  We need to  send a message to both Abellio and the Scottish Government that we will not be forgotten about.” 

 

LABOUR CANDIDATE DISAPPOINTED BY LACK OF PLANS FOR THE FAR NORTH LINE

Scottish Labour candidate John Erskine has expressed his disappointment at the lack of planed improvements for the Far North Line by new Scotrail franchise operator Abellio who will run the...

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