Government should help solve rail dispute

July 28 2016, 9.41amUpdated: July 28 2016, 7.46am
© Press AssociationEdinburgh's Waverley Station

Sir, – Conveniently veiled by the universal coverage of Nicola Sturgeon’s increasing desperation over the EU, and Scottish independence, is the ongoing major industrial action on Scotland’s railways.

What is the Scottish Government doing to help to sort it out, other than lamely asking the sides to meet and talk?

In 2014, Transport Scotland awarded the ScotRail franchise to the Dutch firm Abellio instead of a UK bidder such as First Group or National Express.

Perhaps the SNP probably wasn’t overtly sucking up to Europe at that time, but it can’t be ruled out.

Nevertheless, the decision not to keep the franchise within the UK was heavily criticised by both unions and rail-user groups alike, all to no avail.

At the centre of the strike is the decision by Abellio to press ahead with driver- only operated trains.

That operational aim must surely have been laid out in its 2014 bid and, logically, must have been accepted by Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government.

If not, why not? What questions did the then Transport Secretary Keith Brown actually ask?

Or, more likely, did the Scottish Government sign up to the franchise in the full knowledge that there was a ticking time bomb in the small print in respect of driver-only operations?

Either way, Mr Brown’s 2014 promise to the workforce of “a guarantee of no- compulsory redundancies throughout the life of the contract” now looks decidedly shaky.

No doubt the reallocation of guards to downgraded duties doesn’t count in the government’s eyes.

The Scottish Government consistently claims to be omnicompetent. The current railway strike is yet another example of just how false a position that is.

People who have experienced disruption to their travel plans recently have a right to know why the SNP Government has allowed the situation to go unchecked. A preoccupation with two other things I would suggest.

Jim Shaw.
Hill Street,
Dundee.

 

Unfit people a cash bonus

Sir, – If Charles Wilson (July 25) is going to use the argument that cycling saves the country medical bills then I can be equally pedantic by saying that unfit people who die young are saving the country £7,000 a year because they will never get an old-age pension.

Clark Cross.
138 Springfield Road,
Linlithgow.

 

Dens Road flood misery

Sir, – On Wednesday July 20, Dens Road at the Isla Street junction was flooded yet again.

I have reported this to Dundee City Council for 20 years as well as Shona Robison MSP. Ms Robison has written to Scottish Water but the answer is always the same: it is not in the budget .

When will it be in the budget? When someone is killed? I’m at a loss, I spoke to a council engineer when they were installing an updated crossing and he said that the work would be dealt with in March 2016.

Nothing has happened so when is it to be done?

Perhaps the budget has been diverted to some other project?

I know that the council is responsible for surface water, so if flooding is not surface water then what is it? Then again, once it goes down a drain it is the responsibility of Scottish Water, so, if whatever the water drains into cannot cope, should they not investigate and repair it?

Norman Ewan.
98 Dens Road,
Dundee.

 

Unattainable rail dreams

Sir, – Yet again we hear from a rail pressure group called Railfuture Scotland the unattainable vision of rail expansion within Fife and Perthshire.

It just will not happen. The cost to open the Glenfarg line for instance would be extortionate.

Do they not realise the main road has been built over the old line with housing at both Kinross and Bridge of Earn?

The line from Perth to Crieff and Comrie was, I believe, closed long before the Beeching recommendations, so why would they think it is any more viable now?

The only viable line which could be entertained is the one running from Thornton junction to Levenmouth which is still there.

DW Fenwick.
The Granary,
West Mill Street,
Perth.

 

Long list of SNP achievements

Sir, – I was a bit gobsmacked to read Mr Derek Farmer’s letter (July 25). Once again another of your unionist contributors looks to deride the Scottish Government with a sweeping statement totally without foundation.

In his letter of reply to K. Heath, he says the SNP has an unenviable reputation of being unable to translate words into actions that are beneficial to Scotland.

Let me remind Mr Farmer about benefits the SNP has delivered. These include free public transport for the elderly, a freeze on council tax, free tuition for Scotland’s students, free prescriptions for all, free school meals up to a certain age and financial assistance with childminding.

In addition, we are heading towards 100% renewable power supply, free car parking in all hospitals (bar two who have contracts to complete) and we have all tolls removed from our bridges. I know there are quite a few that I may have missed, but I am certain Mr Farmer will still reply with some negativity regarding these wonderful benefits.

Robert Donald.
Denhead Farm,
Ceres.

 

Self-interest of City gamblers

Sir, – The alleged fiscal piracy of Sir Philip Green in connection with the collapse of BHS, is nothing new for the money men. When I worked in the City in the 1970s I sat in on many a merchant bank meeting where companies were bought and sold, their assets disposed of to release cash, and lifetime employee careers ended as a side effect.

But nothing was said in those days, and the people who perpetrated these atrocities were even regarded as heroes.

I am pleased to see their self-interested actions are now properly questioned. The City and its tacky cohorts are, generally speaking, in the same league as the operators of a rigged roulette wheel.

Malcolm Parkin.
Gamekeepers Road,
Kinnesswood,
Kinross.

 

Threat to open Irish border

Sir, – In her visit to Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister said that “nobody wants to return to the borders of the past”, with the reintroduction of border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It is, however, difficult to see how this situation can be asserted, given that on Brexit, Northern Ireland would be the only part of the UK with a land border with another EU state.

The Leave campaign and those voting for Brexit were to an extent doing so largely on the basis that immigrants from the EU would face greater controls.

It is, therefore, hard to see that the free movement of EU nationals can possibly continue as this would see EU nationals coming into the Republic then to Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

It is also unlikely the EU would allow an open-door policy with a non-EU state.

Reference by Ms May to the Common Travel Area between the UK and Republic of Ireland, dating from 1923, is no longer relevant. Both of these joined what was the EEC at the same time, ensuring that this area could continue.

On Brexit, this becomes null and void as both states have chosen very different paths.

It is difficult to see how an open border could continue between a UK which is looking to limit immigration from the EU, and a Republic of Ireland which allows for the free movement of EU nationals.

Alex Orr.
77 Leamington Terrace,
Edinburgh.

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