South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed a new deal for Scotland’s railways which will bring more tourists to Dumfries and Galloway.

A new franchise agreement announced today by Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown will see reduced fares and better working conditions for staff.

Operator Abellio, which will take on the running of the £6billion franchise from 1 April 2015. Abellio will move their UK HQ to Glasgow creating 50 new jobs alongside 150 jobs secured from First.

As a result of the new deal, passengers and staff will enjoy a range of benefits including: advance fares starting at £5 between Scottish cities; a commitment to earnings of at least the Living Wage for all staff and subcontractors;  at least 100 apprenticeships; a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies;  rail staff pensions and travel rights protected; free wifi on all trains; a new approach to cycling with more than 3,500 parking spaces and bike-hire at a number of stations; 80 new trains due to arrive at start of December 2017; 23 per cent more carriages across the network.

Commenting, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:

“The new contract is great news for passengers and staff across Scotland and I am particularly delighted that Abellio will continue the The Great Scenic Railway scheme bringing tourists to the south west.

“The pledge to pay Living Wage to all employees including subcontractors and the commitment to no compulsory redundancies is welcome news for all those working on our railways. And with all staff to have their rail staff pensions and travel rights protected, this really does represent a better deal.

“The establishment of a new Scottish training academy will also help build a better rail industry for the future – and the commitment to 100 apprenticeships will help get things off to a flying start.

“The new deal will also encourage more people to use sustainable transport with fares between cities starting at £5 and more on board space for bicycles.”

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