Trains, Flowers and Buses

Tuesday August 29th 2017

Christine Grahame MSP in Parliament Main

The Railway

Well I have a meeting on September 13th with Alex Hynes the new Chief of Scotrail so this is your chance to e-mail me in advance with any comments you have regarding the service.

However, let me first say that some of the cancellations and delays are not at the door of Scotrail but Networkrail. You may recall, some of you, that during the Thatcher years much of the UK family silver was sold off: stuff we owned such as BT and British rail. Labour in the intervening years did nothing to put any of this back into private ownership. So it came to pass the trains etc went to competing private companies such as Virgin and Scotrail and separately freight companies. The track, signalling and stations went to a company called Railtrack.

Labour let me add kept it that way through all the years they were in power. Then when Railtrack was going to the wall, we, the public had to rescue it by buying it back and hence Networkrail was born. I say this because some two thirds of delays and cancellations are due to signalling failures or problems with other trains companies breakdowns.

Gorebridge Station

I have singled out Gorebridge Station because although other stations have flower displays, all provided by volunteers effort and time, Gorebridge takes the biscuit. The displays are stunning and many. Travelling to my office in Galashiels last week I saw some of the volunteers at work. Congratulations to all of you.

Concessionary Bus Pass

The Scottish Government is seeking your views on whether or how this should be reviewed, given that the pensions age for men and women is being equalised.

Now this does not mean that if you have this pass you will lose it. You will keep it. This is for the future.

I fully support the scheme because its keeps pensioners active, out and about, socialising and is especially important if you live alone as many do. Some folk have said to me that they would see it means tested, that why should someone who can afford to pay have the pass.

Firstly, means testing is inherently unfair. There are always losers, those who would just not quite quality for the pass and it is clumsy with lots of administrative costs.

Let me make it plain, it is an entitlement, a bit like free prescriptions and if you don’t use it, just like not having a prescription, then there is no money paid out by the government.

When it is used it provides a subsidy to bus companies and keeps the bus services running. Better to have pensioners bums on seats and buses running than empty buses which would lead to cuts in services.

I say three cheers for the bus pass and to all who use it which keeps our buses running. And yes, in fairness to men I can see nothing wrong in the future with that entitlement being the same age for both. Time has moved on. Let me know what you think.

The link to the consultation is HERE

Christine Grahame MSP
Constituency Member for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

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