RAIL workers and climate campaigners have issued a joint call for a Holyrood committee to launch an inquiry into Scotland’s public transport system.

Ahead of a session of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee on Tuesday, where MSPs will consider the nationalisation of Scotrail, Aslef and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland have demanded more investment in rail services in a bid to meet climate targets.

The rail union joined environmental activists in writing to the committee’s convener, Tory MSP Edward Mountain, for a “full comprehensive inquiry” into rail services in Scotland.

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It comes after rail unions published a joint document A Vision for Scotland’s Railway in 2021, and FoE Scotland released a more recent report titled On the Move: Investing in public transport to meet carbon targets and create jobs.

Both groups claimed that the Scottish Government has not set out a “vision” for Scotland’s public transport network.

“There is no time to lose in making the increased investment to make Scotland’s rail services more affordable, accessible, and attractive to road users and the Scottish public at large,” the letter sent to Mountain reads.

“In the absence of a vision for Scotland’s railways coming from the Scottish Government we would urge you as a committee to initiate a broad inquiry into rail services, and indeed a more integrated transport system in Scotland incorporating all public transport.

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“In initiating such an inquiry you would outline the fundamental role that rail travel and public transport more broadly has in helping Scotland grow its economy and deliver on its challenging but necessary climate targets.”

Kevin Lindsay, Aslef’s Scottish organiser, said the union was “delighted” to join forces with climate campaigners to demand a parliamentary inquiry.

“Transport has a critical role in helping Scotland meet its climate targets, growing its economy and achieving a just transition,” he said.

“For Scotland to become a greener, cleaner and healthier nation it needs a vision and a plan for our rail services and how we are actually going to help shift people and goods from road to rail.”

“Given the Scottish Government has not produced its own vision we believe that the Scottish Parliament should now take the lead,” Lindsay added.

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“It is of fundamental importance that there is a plan in place that shows clearly how we can shift people and goods from road to rail and the practical steps that must be taken to achieve this.

“Quite frankly, there is no time to lose in pursuing this agenda and we hope that the Net Zero Committee listens to this joint call from workers and environmentalists and conducts the full inquiry we are asking for.”

Rosie Hampton, just transition campaigner at FoE Scotland, argued that as transport is one of Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions we “urgently need to change the way we get around”.

“With the right investment to make that happen, we’ll also reap the benefits of significant job creation, a boost to the economy and reduced social isolation,” she said.

“There are big disparities in the costs of different kinds of transport at the moment - motoring costs have been kept artificially low for years while train tickets are getting more and more expensive.

“This imbalance is taking us in the wrong direction, yet we have not seen any ambition from the Scottish Government in plans to tackle this.”

Hampton argued that there must be “clear, costed” plans for Scotland’s public transport network, and said the “continued delay” by the Scottish Government in releasing a just transition plan for the sector “does not inspire confidence”.

She added: “The plans should be unwavering in that if we make public transport cheaper than cars, we can create jobs, strengthen our economy and meet our climate commitments.”