Rail 2014 Consultation
In November, 2011, through Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government began a consultation process with rail users and stakeholders to ask them to play their part in shaping Scotland's rail services with passenger interests at their heart. In 2014, both the current contract for rail passenger services (ScotRail) and the funding arrangements for Network Rail in Scotland are due to come to an end and new arrangements have to be in place. The consultation document provided details of how the railway in Scotland operates today and set out the questions and options being considered for the future; the Friends of the Far North Line made a full response to this consultation document. Subsequent to this, FoFNL was invited to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee on 14th March this year. We provided an advance submission to the Committee which outlined the way in which we felt we would wish Scotland's railways to develop in the future and, at the Committee Meeting, answered questions posed by the Members. The salient points were:
- A not-for-profit model for the future operation of ScotRail and a strong programme of finance to Network Rail for enhancement projects.
- Ownership of rolling stock by the Scottish Government and lease to the franchisee at zero cost.
- A new geographically representative body for rail passengers.
- Hourly train services between Perth and Inverness, Aberdeen and Inverness and Tain and Inverness, with additional services between Aberdeen and Inverurie and Elgin and Inverness, all with improved journey times and all to be in place by the end of Control Period 5 in 2019, with some faster, limited-stop services introduced between Inverness and the south before 2014.
- Timing trials on the Highland Main Line (HML) with more powerful trains.
- Improved rolling stock on both Scottish inter-city and rural routes, appropriate for the type of service being operated.
- Retention of Anglo-Scottish services to and from Inverness and Aberdeen, both daytime and overnight, with enhancements to and from Dundee and Perth; reinstatement of direct services between Inverness and West Coast Main Line locations; and consideration of the restoration of Motorail services.
The full consultation response and the submission to the Committee can be downloaded for viewing. In addition, we will be bringing copies of both to the Annual General Meeting in Dingwall. Any members who do not have access to the internet or who cannot come to the AGM are welcome to write in and ask for paper copies. The Scottish Government's website has a full set of minutes and a video-stream of the Committee Meeting.