North East MSP calls for pandemic alcohol ban to be lifted on ScotRail trains
A North East MSP has urged the SNP Government to lift its alcohol ban on ScotRail trains amid calls from transport bodies that the rule is unworkable – three years on from when it was introduced.
At First Minister’s Questions, Conservative North East MSP Douglas Lumsden said “long-suffering” passengers were being “punished” by the ban which should have been scrapped at the end of the pandemic.
The measure was introduced in November 2020 to help limit the spread of the virus.
However, officials from the British Transport Police said a return to pre-pandemic rules which only banned alcohol between 9pm and 10am was now its preferred option.
Documents also reveal Transport Scotland officials also want the rule lifted.
At Holyrood, Humza Yousaf said he will “consider” lifting the ban if the evidence from a consultation into rail travel supports it.
In his question, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Douglas Lumsden MSP asked: “It is exactly three years since alcohol was banned on Scotrail trains as a covid precaution measure.
“ScotRail and British Transport Police have both told me the ban is unworkable.
“People who indulge in anti-social behaviour are ignoring the ban and drinking anyway. It is the law abiding Scots who are being penalised.
“First Minister, is it not time the SNP showed some trust in the Scottish public and scrapped this draconian rule to get more people on to trains, especially during the upcoming Christmas period.?”
Humza Yousaf responded: “I do appreciate there is a wide variety of views on this and that’s exactly why the transport minister has asked for a range of stakeholders to be engaged.”
He added: “I don’t have an absolute fixed view in terms of the evidence that will be brought forward.
“If of course the evidence points to that ban being lifted, we will explore that and give that appropriate consideration.”
Mr Lumsden later said: “Long-suffering passengers are wrongfully being punished by this Covid-era measure that should have been reversed alongside other restrictions.
“British Transport Police, Transport Scotland and ScotRail all want more flexible alcohol-related rules on our trains ahead of the Christmas period.
“The SNP must finally show some trust in the Scottish public and get rid of this severe rule which is only adding to the substandard service being delivered.”