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What will independence mean for Scotland’s rail services?

Since 2005, powers to specify and fund work on the Scottish rail network have been devolved. However, discussion about the overall structure of the rail industry remains reserved to Westminster, along with safety and standards.

Independence will not result in any immediate change to rail services. However, future governments of an independent Scotland will have greater flexibility over the budgets available to support rail services and over franchise arrangements and ownership models.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will railways in an independent Scotland be re-nationalised?

The existing ScotRail franchise ends on 31 March 2015 and competitions for the replacement ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises are underway. The ScotRail franchise will be let for 10 years with a review after five years. The Caledonian Sleeper franchise will be let for up to 15 years.

After these franchises have completed, the government of an independent Scotland will, under existing European legislation, have the opportunity to consider all options for the delivery of passenger services, including public sector options.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will cross-border services still run?

Yes. Cross-border rail services operate throughout Europe every day, linking cities and people across national boundaries. Governments work in partnership to deliver rail services of economic and social importance. Scotland and the rest of the UK will be no different in that respect.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scottish customers be disadvantaged over fare pricing for these services?

No. An independent Scotland will have the opportunity of a greater role in determining cross-border franchise arrangements. Today in Europe, passengers can book a ticket on services connecting the Netherlands, Belgium and France without nationality playing a factor in fares costs. There is no reason why a similar situation should not apply between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen to rail fares in Scotland post-independence?

The Scottish Government is already responsible for specifying regulated rail fare increases within its franchise agreements. Independence will not change these arrangements.

The current policy in Scotland has led to lower rail fare increases than in England. As of January 2013, the maximum rail fare increase for regulated fares was 3.1 per cent in Scotland, compared to an average increase of 4.1 per cent in England. In addition, off-peak fares will be frozen in Scotland. Within the next franchise period from April 2015, the Scottish Government has committed to bearing down further on the cost of fares for passengers by ensuring that ScotRail peak fares do not increase by more than inflation, and ScotRail off-peak fares will rise not greater than one per cent below inflation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will franchises being let now still apply?

Yes. The Scottish Government proposes no change to current plans for the ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises and these will continue to operate as planned.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will UK franchises for cross-border services have to be renegotiated with the Government of an independent Scotland?

With the exception of the Caledonian Sleeper, the Westminster Government is currently responsible for cross-border franchises and receives all of the money paid by operators. This arrangement will need to be renegotiated. Negotiation will not, however, affect the day to day delivery of the franchises. Given the importance of these routes to Scotland and the rest of the UK, it will be in both countries’ interests to put in place arrangements to ensure the continued operation of cross-border services.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will plans for high speed rail between Glasgow and Edinburgh be affected by independence?

No. The Scottish Government is currently developing plans for high speed rail infrastructure in Scotland. This will improve the journey times for future Scotland to England services and also provide a fast, dedicated capacity in high speed rail service between Edinburgh and Glasgow. It will also free up the central belt so more services to other areas of Scotland can be created.

The current planning is independent of what is being developed in England, but will clearly be designed to be compatible. Independence will have no impact on these plans.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will plans for high speed rail between Scotland and England be affected by independence?

Current confirmed Westminster plans exclude Scotland and Northern England, with the next phases of high-speed rail only due to connect London with Birmingham in 2026 and then Leeds and Manchester by 2033.

While this investment will bring some benefits between the Central Belt and London, the economic benefits to Scotland, the North East and far North West of England are marginal compared to those which will accrue to other areas of the UK. Indeed, Westminster’s own analysis shows that the economies of Aberdeen and Dundee may suffer from such a partial approach.

Despite a much stronger business case from a network that includes Scotland and previous calls, not just from the Scottish Government but councils in the North of England and civic and business Scotland too, it is only now that Westminster has agreed to plan for high speed to go beyond Manchester and Leeds.

Consistent with the Borderlands initiative, an independent Scotland could work together with northern English councils to argue the case more strongly for High Speed to go further North faster. High Speed Rail will also attract air travellers from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London, freeing air slots to maintain air access to Aberdeen and Inverness, which with rail improvements will maintain and enhance the connectivity of these economically vibrant cities.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen to Network Rail in Scotland?

Network Rail is a private company limited by guarantee and will continue to operate as it does now, regulated by the Office of Rail Regulation. The Scottish Government will expect to become a member of Network Rail with membership rights equivalent to those currently held by the Department for Transport to ensure it best meets its obligations with respect to an independent Scottish Government.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen to Network Rail’s debt, which is currently guaranteed by the Westminster Government?

An independent Scotland will continue to meet its rail financing obligations – including the servicing of regulatory debt for Scotland. This is in line with the determination made by the Office of Rail Regulation for the period 2014 to 2019. The Scottish Government will continue to meet any obligations with respect to the financing of Network Rail in Scotland, and, if required, the Scottish Government will provide its own Financial Indemnity Mechanism (FIM) to support this. Under these circumstances Network Rail would pay a fee to the Scottish Government to reflect the benefit it received from the FIM.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

If I buy a travel pass or season ticket before independence that continues into independence will it be valid for the whole period?

Yes. The Scottish Government proposes no change to the ScotRail franchise, which will operate as normal. All passes and tickets will remain valid.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.