ScotRail franchise shortlist revealed

The identities of five companies invited to bid for the ScotRail franchise have been revealed by Transport Minister  Keith Brown.

Arriva, Abellio, MTR, National Express and current holders FirstGroup are all in the running for the 10-year contract to operate rail services in the country.

Answering a formal question in the Scottish Parliament, Brown said that he expects to publish the draft invitation to tender on November 19.

The new 10-year franchise, which is expected to start in April 2015, will include a ‘break point’ halfway through.

As well as revealing details of the ScotRail competition, Brown confirmed that the final invitation to tender for the Caledonian Sleeper franchise had been published, which will require bids from Arriva, FirstGroup and Serco to be submitted by December 12.

Staking a claim for both competitions, Vernon Barker, FirstGroup’s managing director, UK Rail, said: “As a Scottish company, we are proud to run Scotland’s railway and proud of our success in growing the business.

“First ScotRail now carries 83 million passengers a year, 30 per cent more than in 2004, and has introduced 300 more services per day, whilst seeing record high customer satisfaction scores.”

National Express chief executive officer Dean Finch said: “We are delighted to have pre-qualified for the ScotRail franchise.

“We are focused on delivering a strong bid that meets Scotland’s rightly ambitious aspirations for excellent customer service and enhances the railway’s contribution to economic, environmental and social objectives.”