Edinburgh-based think tank Reform Scotland has released a briefing paper which says constant discussion about nationalising ScotRail “is a meaningless distraction.”
The report called “On The Right Track” highlights that Scotland’s railway infrastructure – lines and stations – are already publicly owned.
It says that more than half of the delays on ScotRail trains are caused by publicly-owned Network Rail.
The report calls for Network Rail to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and calls for a Scottish Rail Infrastructure Commission to look at a strategic transformation in the rail network to 2050.
Reform Scotland Advisory Board member and former Transport Minister Tom Harris said: “There has been almost constant discussion about nationalising ScotRail for years, and it continues unabated.
“But it is a meaningless distraction.
“ScotRail is responsible for only around one-third of the delays on the railways, whereas over half are down to Network Rail – the public body responsible already nationalised railways.
“What would be interesting to explore is whether the Scottish Government could do a better job of running Scotland’s railway infrastructure than the Westminster Government.
“It is logical that this could be the case, which is why Reform Scotland is calling for Network Rail to be devolved.
“Scotland’s rail problems are more fundamental than the current debate would suggest.
“In 30 years’ time, do we really want to be in a situation where it could take less time to reach London by rail from Edinburgh than it does to reach Inverness?
“While rail links to London are important, so too are links within Scotland, links which are sadly lacking at present.
“What we really need is a strategic and forward-looking Scottish Rail Infrastructure Commission which would decide what our railways need to offer our people in 2050, and should look at what
transformational change is needed to help improve connectivity and grow our economy.”
In the report, Reform Scotland adds: “Instead or arguing over who runs ScotRail, Reform Scotland thinks the focus of the debate around the rail network should be on Scotland’s poor rail connectivity; on our lack of electrification; and moving away from the obsession of cutting train times to London, when it can take longer to travel far shorter distances within Scotland.”