The ScotRail franchise – Scotland’s biggest public service contract – has been formally handed over Dutch-owned operator Abellio.
The launch of the new franchise was signalled with a £1 million ticket giveway for customers and promises of a host of service improvements over the next 10 years.
Abellio Group chief executive Jeff Hoogesteger said “ball is now very firmly in Abellio’s court”. The new franchise will welcome a fleet of 70 new British-built electric multiple units (EMU) on the route between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and introduce services on the newly built Borders Railway.
Jeff Hoogesteger said: “Today begins a new chapter in the long story of Scotland’s railways. As the new stewards of a vital part of Scotland’s society and economy, we understand the responsibility given to us and will work every day to earn the faith that has been shown in us.
“On October 8, 2014, I stood with the then Transport Minister, Keith Brown, at Waverley station to welcome the award of ScotRail to Abellio. The ball is now very firmly in Abellio’s court, and we have no higher priority than to bring our vision for ScotRail to life.”
He added: “I now live in Edinburgh and will test the services regularly as I travel to Abellio’s new UK headquarters is Glasgow.”
The new franchise will see Network Rail and Abellio work together in an alliance, led by Network Rail’s Phil Verster.