Publication - FOI/EIR release

Rail Recovery Task minutes from October 2020 - January 2021: FOI release

Published: 19 Apr 2021

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
19 Apr 2021
Rail Recovery Task minutes from October 2020 - January 2021: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100152247
Date received: 6 Feb 2021
Date responded: 8 Mar 2021
Information requested

Copies of the minutes of the Rail Recovery Task Force covering the period from 1st October 2020 to 31st January 2021. 

Response

Attached is a copy of all the information you requested. The information enclosed are minutes that have been produced by Abellio ScotRail at the Rail Recovery Task Force meetings, which as a member of this group, Transport Scotland receive copies of.

For ease, I have attached the documents as per the below table:

DATE

MINUTE

Tue 06 Oct

Document 01

Tue 13 Oct

No Minute

Tue 20 Oct

Document 02

Tue 27 Oct

Document 03

Tue 03 Nov

Document 04

Tue 10 Nov

Document 05

Tue 24 Nov

No Minute

Tue 01 Dec

Document 06

Tue 08 Dec

Document 07

Tue 15 Dec

Document 08

Tue 22 Dec

Document 09

Tue 05 Jan

Document 10

Fri 08 Jan

Document 11

Tue 12 Jan

Document 12

Tue 19 Jan

Document 13

Tue 26 Jan

Document 14

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition to free and frank provision of advice), section 33(1)(b) (Substantial prejudice to commercial interests) and section 38(1)(b) (personal information) apply to that information. The reason why these exemptions apply is set out in the Annex.

You may also find it helpful to note that where information has been redacted from the documents in relation to 30(b)(i) - Substantial inhibition to free and frank provision of advice this information has been annotated with a "1". Where information has been redacted from the documents in relation to 33(1)(b) - Substantial prejudice to commercial interests this information has been annotated with a "2". The remaining information that has been redacted in the documents falls to 38(1)(b) (personal information).

Annex
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test

30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice)

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers and other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the workings of the Rail Recovery Task Force in Scotland will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to sensitive issues such as Abellio ScotRail’s commercial operations.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.

We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to third party rail industry partners, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on strategic capabilities within the rail industry. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Scottish Government officials and third party rail industry partners, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

33(1)(b) of FOISA (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial information)
An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial information) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of commercial information provided by Abellio ScotRail and thus cause substantial harm to its commercial interests. Disclosing this information would be likely to give Abellio ScotRail’s competitors an advantage in future work tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice Abellio ScotRail’s ability to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm its commercial business.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.

We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which enter into Scottish Government contracts, to ensure that our suppliers are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information)
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals and companies, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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