Transport Scotland

Rail campaigners call for Scottish rail reopening investigation

Transform Scotland has today urged the Scottish Government to investigate the reopening of former rail routes across Scotland to reconnect communities with the rest of the country.

The recommendation comes in response to Transport Scotland’s consultation on their Rail Infrastructure Strategy, which sought views on how Scotland’s rail network can be improved in coming years.

Transform Scotland has called for all former rail routes to be safeguarded until comprehensive studies have been undertaken to assess the feasibility of railway reopenings. Doing so would help to ensure future opportunities exist to develop and expand Scotland’s existing rail network.Transform Scotland has also called for the Scottish Government to produce a table of population centres which are currently without access to rail services. Many communities across Scotland remain without access to rail services, despite a wide network of disused railways which were closed during the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. Reopening rail routes could open up huge economic and social benefits for areas across Scotland which are at present poorly connected to the rest of the country.

Paul Tetlaw, Rail Campaigner at Transform Scotland, said:

“It is essential that government takes a long-term strategic approach to the development of the railway network. The railway that we have today is largely a mixture of that developed by the early private railway companies and later dramatically reduced by the Beeching era closures.

“In many instances communities that suffered station closures have now grown substantially and new communities have grown up around existing railway lines. Expansion of the network is required to serve these communities which have grown out of all proportion in recent decades. Future planning needs to recognise the huge changes that have occurred since then and plan to create a railway fit for the 21st century.

“We suggest that all former rail routes should be protected until a survey has been undertaken to establish the condition and opportunity for re-use. These are national assets and should be viewed as such.

“At the same time a table of population centres not currently served by rail should be compiled. This would help to create a strategic approach to how and where the rail network will need to be enhanced and enlarged for both passenger and freight needs.”

“One of the many lessons to be learned from the new Borders Railway is that communities value new rail links to our cities and the benefits flow both ways. There are a number of other examples of communities which would benefit from such links, where the social benefits should form a key part of the business case. Levenmouth in Fife stands out as a very prominent example.

“It cannot be right that it is left to local campaigners to lobby for new rail services or routes – a strategic approach which combines local, regional and national needs should be adopted.”

Funding boost for Dalcross

The project to build a railway station at Dalcross has received a £3.34m funding boost from the Scottish Stations Fund. It will provide access to Inverness Airport.

The station is expected to cost just under £4m with the car park and access expected to increase costs to £5.5m. Plans were submitted for the railway station in October and these are expected to be presented at the local planning application committee in mid January.

Transport Scotland increases East Linton and Reston funding offer

Facing increasing criticism from local authorities, the Scottish government has offered an increased funding package for the proposed railway stations at East Linton and Reston.

The offer made will increase the proposed Scottish Government contribution to 60%; this is unprecedented in terms of the Scottish Stations Fund and has never been made in any previous station.

The second option would see the stations’ construction form part of a programme of works within the next Network Rail delivery period, which broadly aims to improve capacity to the east of Edinburgh. In this second option, the councils are not being required to increase the level of funding above that which they have stated is their limit.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said

“The Scottish Government has been a strong supporter of the delivery of Reston and East Linton stations and is keen to work with local authorities to deliver rail infrastructure to meet the needs of their local communities.

“Currently, we fund new stations via the Scottish Stations Fund with central government funding limited to 50%; the balance being matched by contributions from promoters, whether local authorities or private developers.

“Recognising the budgetary pressures facing all parties concerned, I have written to both local authorities outlining my two potential solutions to the current funding shortfall.

“My first option seeks to address the shortfall by increasing the central government contribution to an unprecedented 60%, the second by incorporating the stations within a larger programme of works.

“The second option would see the stations’ construction form part of a programme of works within the next Network Rail delivery period, which broadly aims to improve capacity to the east of Edinburgh. In this second option, the councils are not being required to increase the level of funding above that which they have stated is their limit.

“In both instances, I would also be seeking a long term commitment from each council in respect of improved connectivity. For example, by ensuring appropriate bus services to the station from outlying communities and the provision of suitable interchange facilities to maximise the wider economic and social value of the stations.

“I am pleased to be able to offer these unprecedented solutions to allow the construction of these stations to progress. I’ve advised the councils that I’m happy to accept either option. The ball is now in the Councils’ court and I look forward, in due course, to hear how they wish to proceed.”

Scottish Stations Fund boost for Robroyston

The Scottish Government has given a huge boost to plans for a new railway station for Robroyston.

The new station proposals, which include a park & ride car park, are designed to provide local residents with a sustainable travel option, as well as catering for additional future demand from the 1,600 new households planned for the Robroyston area.

The Scottish Government has committed to meet 50% of the station`s currently estimated construction costs – over £7 million – through the Scottish Stations Fund. The remainder is expected to be met by the scheme promoters Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Glasgow City Council, and private developers.

This investment reaffirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in Scotland`s railways, ensuring that more people are able to access the rail network.

Minister for Transport, Humza Yousaf said: “I am very pleased to announce this substantial funding package for a new station for Robroyston.

“This is a significant announcement, with Robroyston the first new station project to be funded by the Scottish Stations Fund, which was introduced to improve and increase access to rail across Scotland.

Plans submitted to the Scottish Stations Fund by the Robroyston station scheme promoters envisage completion of the Robroyston station project by March 2019.