LABOUR’S would-be transport secretary would let state-owned companies bid for Scottish rail routes — if Scotland is still part of the union.
Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh yesterday acknowledged a “raw deal” under privatisation as she inched the party’s platform back towards public ownership.
SNP ministers have seized on current laws which ban the public sector from bidding to run Scottish trains even when foreign state-owned firms are major players.
But Labour countered yesterday that Scotland did not need to vote for independence as the party would devolve those powers when it next won a UK general election.
Ms Creagh said: “Two decades on from rail privatisation, passengers across the UK are getting a raw deal from many of the rail operators.
“That’s why Labour will learn the lessons from (publicly owned) East Coast and make sure that public-sector companies can compete on a level playing field with the private sector,” she said.
But Rail Maritime and Transport Union acting general secretary Mick Cash said members had “no intention of letting the politicians off the hook.”
“Labour’s plan to reform the franchising system is a fudge and a cop-out and our experience of the SNP is that they talk tough on the private rip-off but in practice have not lifted a finger to end it.”
The union would continue to campaign for full public ownership, he said.
Transport Salaried Staff Association leader Manuel Cortes said he took heart from the promise of “a genuinely level playing field.
“We believe, on that criteria, the private operators will, on a one-by-one basis, lose those contests and we will see a gradual return to a publicly operated railway,” he said.