How Inverness Could be Closer to the Central Belt
In the last Far North Express, we carried a report of a parliamentary question from Liz Smith MSP (Con, Mid Scotland and Fife) in respect of the apparently moribund scheme to build a new railway from Inverkeithing to Halbeath which would reduce the journey time between Edinburgh and Markinch. However, it failed to achieve a satisfactory rate of return and was placed on the back-burner. Transform Scotland has now proposed that the former railway line between Dunfermline and Bridge of Earn via Kinross be reopened and, on 9th October, Ms. Smith secured a debate on the matter in the Scottish Parliament with a long motion which is worth repeating in full:
"That the Parliament notes calls to investigate the possibility of reopening of the direct rail link between Perth and Edinburgh; understands that the 22-mile link was closed in the 1970s to make way for the M90 but that a large section of the original line remains largely intact; believes that reopening a direct rail link would provide additional capacity; further believes that it would reduce journey times between Edinburgh and Perth by around 35 minutes, reduce onward travel times to Aberdeen and Inverness and be of service to what it sees as the growing communities in Perthshire and Kinross-shire and in Fife; notes that, in 2009, Transport Scotland included the construction of a railway line between Inverkeithing and Halbeath as one of the 29 transport projects and programmes identified in its strategic transport projects review as possible investment priorities; notes the calls for a new feasibility study for these services to be commissioned, and believes that a direct rail link between Perth and Edinburgh would help deliver a transport system that works for the 21st century with the modern infrastructure that it considers essential to help improve people's lives and support businesses."
A comprehensive debate took place which, sadly, is too long to reproduce here. The Minister for Transport and Veterans, Keith Brown MSP, responded to the debate by advising Members that the cost had been estimated at between £500m and £1bn and was, therefore, unaffordable. However, one interesting statement he did make was: "... Future phases of our electrification programme will include electrification of routes between Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee, Dunblane to Aberdeen, and Perth to Inverness." No date was given. If any member would like a copy of the full debate and of the Transform Scotland briefing document, please contact FoFNL via one of the addresses on the FoFNL Home page . If by mail, please enclose a stamped-addressed C5 envelope.
Our coverage of the ITT for the ScotRail franchise outlines the proposed improvements to journey times into Inverness from the east and the south.