A PUBLIC sector body will be able to bid for the next ScotRail franchise, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The Government says David MacBrayne Ltd has confirmed its interest in exploring the possibility of a bid for the franchise. The company is a publicly-owned private company, with the Scottish Government as its sole shareholder, and through its subsidiaries it operates CalMac and Argyll Ferries as well as the Marchwood Military Port in Hampshire. The current ScotRail franchise, operated by Abellio, began in April 2015 and has a seven-year term with an option to extend for a further three years.

Following Scottish Government representations to the Smith Commission, new powers were awarded to Scottish Ministers through the Scotland Act 2016 to allow public sector bodies to bid for Scottish rail franchises. The Scottish Government promises ‘equal treatment to all bidders whether from the public or private sectors’.