Transport workers march to Bute House in ticket office closure protest

Members of the RMT trade union also voiced their opposition to Project Neptune.

Neil Pooran
Monday 31 January 2022 15:33
The march ended at Bute House (Jane Barlow/PA)
The march ended at Bute House (Jane Barlow/PA)

Transport workers have marched through Edinburgh to protest about rising fares and plans to close railway ticket offices.

Members of the RMT union also voiced their opposition to Project Neptune, a review which could reportedly lead to routes on Scotland’s ferry network being privatised.

Union members carried flags and banners as they marched from Edinburgh Waverley station to Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence.

Politicians including Scottish Labour MSP Richard Leonard and Alba MP Kenny MacAskill also joined the march.

Gordon Martin, a regional organiser with the RMT, said the Scottish Government had failed to live up to commitments made during the Cop26 summit.

He told the PA news agency: “The Scottish Government have totally failed to live up to their promises, they’re putting the train fares up, they’re slashing the infrastructure budget.

“They’re supposed to be talking about a greener railway, how can you do that when you’re cutting back on infrastructure projects?”

Mr Martin said the RMT was strongly opposed to the review of ferry services being carried out by consultants Ernst & Young known as Project Neptune, saying it was a “privateers’ charter”.

He said: “We are totally opposed to the unbundling of the CalMac routes and we will be doing everything we can to keep CalMac in public ownership, a public service for the people of Scotland.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “We know that we need to take bold action to tackle the climate emergency and have recently published our routemap to achieve a 20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030, a world-leading target that makes the scale of our ambition clear.

“In addition, the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) recommendations put a clear focus on the decarbonisation of the remainder of the rail network and the maintenance, upgrade and safe operation of our existing assets.

“Both the Scottish Government and its partners are committed to providing our island and remote rural communities with the services they need to achieve sustainability and economic growth.

“We have announced investment of £580 million in ports and vessels to support and improve ferry services over the next five years.”

The spokeswoman added: “Our continued support throughout the pandemic has seen a record £4.85 billion investment to maintain and enhance Scotland’s railway, with circa £1 billion via the Emergency Measures Agreements for ScotRail and the Caledonian Sleeper.

“We know that there is much work to be done in encouraging people back to public transport if we are to achieve our net zero targets.

“Our ongoing Fair Fares review is looking at the range of discounts and concessionary schemes available on public transport, and informing the development of a sustainable and integrated approach to future fares.”

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