A north-east MP has welcomed the start of a UK-wide railcard scheme for ‘heroic’ veterans of the Armed Forces.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie spoke after fundraising hero, Captain Sir Tom Moore, was given the first railcard by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Mr Bowie’s calls for the scheme to extend to Scotland in June were also answered in a subsequent announcement by the SNP government.
Scotland has an estimated 480,000 veterans and Mr Bowie, a former Royal Navy officer, believes it will provide a ‘social, physical and mental health boost’ for hundreds of thousands of people in the ex-service community.
The Conservative MP said: “I’d like to thank the Minister for his work in setting up the veteran railcard in England, in partnership with the Secretary of State for Defence.
“This move will provide a social, physical and mental health boost for thousands at once, at a time when some ex-servicemen and women may be feeling isolated.
“These heroic people must not be left behind.
“When the benefit was envisaged in early June, I called on the SNP to do their bit so Scottish veterans wouldn’t lose out and I am glad that Michael Matheson has listened.”
And Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Maureen Watt welcomed the introduction of the new cards.
She said: “Veterans are an asset to our communities and deserve the best possible care and support.
“It is important that we recognise the contribution veterans have made in Scotland and this new railcard will help open up opportunities for those who have served in our armed forces – strengthening employment opportunities and travel links with family and friends.
“The further discount scheme is part of the SNP Government’s ambition to make Scotland the destination of choice for Service leavers and their families.”
For more information on how to obtain a veterans’ rail card, visit railcard.co.uk