PROTESTERS will call for ScotRail to be brought into public ownership at a major railway station today.

The demonstration at Glasgow Central, organised by the TSSA rail union, is also demanding that the franchise’s operator Abellio be stripped of its contract.

Organisers say it’s time for the Scottish Government to take action after months of delays and cancellations to trains in Scotland.

Ahead of the demonstration, union leader Manuel Cortes said: “Passengers are rightly angry at the way ScotRail has let them down – 2019 started with yet more late and cancelled trains and overcrowding is at an all-time high.

“Blame belongs with Abellio and their team of senior managers. Poor planning, deliberate understaffing of the railway and trying to do things on the cheap are not the fault of our members who do their best in tough circumstances.

“But ScotRail also fails because of the systemic problems visited on it by the now beyond-broken experiment with privatisation of our rail companies and rolling stock.”

But a Scottish Government spokesman pointed out that railways continue to be dealt with as a Westminster issue.

He said: “Rail remains a reserved matter under the Scotland Act. Until this changes, we cannot consider the full range of options for running the railways in Scotland in a way which best suits our passengers, freight providers and communities.

“That is why we are yet again calling on the UK Government, through its rail review, to devolve all rail matters to the Scottish ministers.

“Anyone with a genuine interest in improving our railways should get behind this.

“Unique in the UK, the Scottish Government has secured powers to accept bids for future rail franchises in Scotland from public sector organisations through the Scotland Act 2016.

“This was after repeatedly being denied that right by successive Labour and Conservative governments,” he added.

Last month, the Scottish Government instructed the rail firm to submit a plan for how it will address its falling performance levels.

But Cortes criticised the decision and blasted Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, who he claims “has reneged on his predecessor Humza Yousaf’s willingness to break the Abellio franchise this March”.

He added: “When there could have been light at the end of the tunnel after months of misery, Matheson has done no more than ask Abellio for yet another plan which will take two months to arrive before anything gets done.

“Scottish passengers deserve better than that.

“Under public ownership not only could ticket prices come down but investment in rolling stock and staff would go up. A publicly owned ScotRail would reinvest the profits back into running the railway.”

Campaigners from Scottish Labour will join union members at the demonstration today, according to the party’s transport spokesman Colin Smyth MSP.

He said: “Hard pressed passengers have just seen a rip-off fare rise following months of poor service, with late running, overcrowded trains.

“The SNP claimed this was a world-leading deal, but it’s clear that more and more people are being persuaded by Labour’s plans for public ownership.”