The Scottish Government released the new Scottish Rail Investment Strategy today: https://news.gov.scot/news/scotlands-rail-investment-strategy-for-next-decade-published
Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said: “We’ve learnt from the experience of this and previous Control Periods. We’ve listened to the views of local communities and the rail industry. Our strategy will bring to life the new pipeline approach. It will deliver a framework for rail investment with a sharp focus on the right solutions for passengers and freight users, greater efficiency, oversight and value for money’.
“Despite our strong track record since 2007, future investment in Scotland’s railways is set against a real terms reduction in rail funding from the UK Government, which threatens sustainable, progressive investment in rail services. The decisions of the UK Government have created a gap of £460m of the funding that the rail industry has advised us it needs to deliver the improvements required to meet demands for rail.”
“Transport Scotland will be hosting a series of workshops across the country, where stakeholders and interested groups can find out more about the strategy, as well as how to apply for the recently announced Local Rail Development Fund.”
Emma Cooper, Chief Executive of Scottish Rural Action, said “You only have to glance at a rail map of Scotland to identify where investment has been focused in the past – away from our rural communities – and there is no indication in this strategy that we can expect to see that change anytime soon.
“This new strategy lists five criteria that will be used to assess the prioritisation of rail projects; only the fifth of these criteria is likely to encourage development in rural communities, ‘targeted investment to help reduce inequality and increase inclusive economic growth’. This is the only criteria which does not put a focus on building on the existing infrastructure, which, as we know, is predominantly located in urban centres.
“Rural communities repeatedly prioritise connectivity – digital and transport – reflecting both the poor current levels of connectivity across rural Scotland and the importance of connectivity for the rural economy. Evidence shows that small levels of investment can have a huge impact on economic growth in rural areas, compared with urban centres where growth is more incremental.
“We appreciate that the Scottish Government is in a very difficult position, having been subjected to a significant reduction in real terms of funding from the UK Government for rail maintenance and development. It is understandable that the bulk of the funding will be used to maintain and improve current services given the lack of support for rail that the UK Government is demonstrating. Our concern is that this makes future investment in rural connectivity highly unlikely, despite the proven success of investment in rural rail in Scotland.
“Yet again, our rural communities are likely to be left behind – literally on this occasion.”
Stakeholder groups can register for more information by emailing: Rail.Infrastructure.Strategy@transport.gov.scot
The workshops to accompany the publication of both the Investment Strategy and Fund will take place on:
- 16 April (13:30-16:00) – Glasgow – Atlantic Quay (Fleming C) (Broomielaw, Glasgow)
- 23 April (13:30-16:00) – Aberdeen – Town House – Committee Room 2 (Aberdeen Town House, Broad Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1AH)
- 24 April (13:30-16:00) (Date TBC) – Kirkcaldy, Fife – Town House (2 Wemysfield, Kirkcaldy, KY1 1XW)
- 27 April (12:30-15:00) – Longman House (SG), Inverness (28 Longman Road, Inverness, IV1 1SF)
- 30 April (13:30-16:00) – Best Western Station Hotel, Dumfries (49 Lovers Walk, Dumfries, DG1 1LT)
- 1 May (13:30-16:00) – Endeavour House, Dundee (1 Greenmarket, Dundee, DD1 4QB)