In November 2020, ScotRail introduced a policy that made all trains alcohol-free. This policy was implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Initially it was meant to be temporary. But the alcohol-free policy has remained in place in ScotRail thanks to its many benefits. Nevertheless, the policy is now under review regarding whether to lift it and allow alcohol on trains in Scotland again.
The review comes after ScotRail was passed to Scottish Government control on April 01, 2022. The franchise was taken into public ownership after Dutch firm Abellio, which had run the franchise since 2015, had its contract end early amid criticism over cancellations and declining performance levels.
Benefits of alcohol-free trains
When the alcohol-free policy was put in place, rail union RMT had welcomed it as a way of keeping “staff and passengers safe”.
ScotRail is now considering whether to reintroduce alcohol onto its trains. If this happens alcohol availability will rise and staff and passengers could be at risk of alcohol harm again. So far the transport minister has been clear that passenger and staff safety must be safeguarded.
The potential reintroduction of alcohol on Scotland’s railway services is currently under review,” said a spokesman for Transport Scotland, as per The Herald.
However, the transport minister has been very clear about the need to improve safety on our railways for all passengers.
Any consideration of the reintroduction of alcohol on ScotRail trains would need to consider this matter within that broader context of passenger – and staff – safety.”A spokesman for Transport Scotland
Graham Simpson, transport spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives has said ScotRail should ask passengers whether they want to continue with the alcohol-free policy on trains. If ever alcohol is allowed back on trains Simpson says it should be what passengers wish and that the staff must be given the necessary resources to tackle any unruly behavior issues rising from alcohol on trains.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has invited opposition politicians, trade unions, and passengers to take part in a “national conversation” about ScotRail as it returns to public ownership.