Scotland business

Abellio offers jobseekers perks in new Scotrail deal

ScotRail rains
Image caption The new 10-year franchise is set to come in at the start of April this year

The new ScotRail franchise will offer free rail travel to interviews for jobseekers, as well as a month's free travel if they get the job.

Advance fares between any two Scottish cities from £5 will be introduced, and the ScotRail 55+ concessionary scheme will be extended to those over 50.

The Dutch operator Abellio will take over the franchise on 1 April.

Their contract will run for 10 years, with a break clause allowing either side to end it in 2022.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said that the passenger benefits Abellio was introducing amounted to "a really remarkable offer."

"The Scottish Government was clear that this franchise should be about more than delivering a rail service - it should be an enabler for growth and an important contributor to communities up and down the country," he added.

Abellio has also promised:

  • New trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • Refurbished high-speed intercity diesel trains with over a third more seats
  • Free wifi on all trains
  • 23% more carriages across the network
  • More than 3,500 parking spaces and bike-hire points installed at a number of stations
  • A Great Scenic Railway Journeys of Scotland campaign to attract more tourists

Living wage

The ScotRail franchise is the biggest single contract let by the Scottish Government and is worth just over £6bn.

Several stations will undergo improvements, with enhanced online services and better integration with other forms of transport.

ScotRail staff, who will all transfer to the new franchise, and subcontractors have both been guaranteed the living wage.

Abellio has pledged to create at least 100 apprenticeships, and has committed to having no compulsory redundancies throughout the contract's period.

'Truly strategic role'

Jeff Hoogesteger, CEO Abellio Group, said: "Under Abellio, ScotRail will not simply be a train operating company, but a passenger operating company.

"This means it will play a truly strategic role in the long term development of the nation; providing jobs and support for small businesses in towns and cities across the country; supporting and boosting Scotland's leisure and tourism industries and connecting businesses and people by improving journey times and the capacity of Scotland's rail services."

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