Yestermonths In Parliament
Question S4W-16836: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 23/08/2013
To ask the Scottish Government whether the proposed improvements to the Highland Main Line will include restoration of the double-track section between Culloden Viaduct and Daviot.
Answered by Keith Brown (18/09/2013): Network Rail are currently carrying out timetable development work for phase two of the Highland Main Line Improvements project which will help to identify where infrastructure interventions are required. They are expected to deliver a report on the options for this phase of the project by the end of this year. Phase two of the project will be delivered between 2014-19. Phase one has been completed delivering two extra trains each way per day from December 2011 and journey time improvements of up to 18 minutes on some services as part of the December 2012 timetable.
(The 18 minute "improvement" applied to only one train on Sundays only. The December, 2012 "speed up" averaged 1 minute southbound to Edinburgh and 2 minutes to Glasgow; northbound, it averaged 9 minutes from Edinburgh and 5½ minutes from Glasgow (both Mondays to Saturdays). Some trains were slowed down, and the speed up, though welcome, only helped to recover some of the "slippage" there has been in the last three years. Unfortunately, the December, 2013 timetable saw odd minutes being added to certain trains. And, if there was a report issued by the end of 2013, we have yet to find it.)
Question S4W-16837: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 23/08/2013
To ask the Scottish Government whether the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme timetable will ensure that fast paths are incorporated for services between Inverness and Edinburgh and Glasgow and that these will be compatible with the new timetable for services north of Perth.
Answered by Keith Brown (18/09/2013): The Edinburgh. Glasgow, Inverness and Perth timetable (sic) is currently under development and will take account of Central Belt and Highland Main Line services including the Inverness to Edinburgh and Glasgow train paths. The timetable development currently underway by the rail industry recognises the importance of delivering fast paths for both routes.
Question S4W-16838: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 23/08/2013
To ask the Scottish Government whether the timetables for rail services between the north of Perth and Edinburgh and Glasgow will be co-ordinated to optimise journey times.
Answered by Keith Brown (18/09/2013): Network Rail are currently working on timetable development for phase 2 of the Highland Main Line project which will help to determine where infrastructure interventions are necessary to support an hourly service and achieve the required average journey time reduction of around 10 minutes in both directions between Inverness and Edinburgh/Glasgow (measured against the timetable in place in June 2012 or any improvements introduced between then and 31 March 2014). They are expected to deliver a pre-feasibility report on options later this year.
Question S4W-16987: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/09/2013
To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on whether accelerating the upgrade of the A9 will lead to a shift from rail to road.
Answered by Keith Brown (18/09/2013): The Strategic Transport Projects Review formed a multi-modal appraisal of the Perth to Inverness corridor and concluded that both road and rail interventions should be taken forward. Our ambitious plans to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness and upgrade the Highland Mainline by 2025 will help achieve this government's purpose of sustainable economic growth.
Question S4W-16988: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/09/2013
To ask the Scottish Government whether the comment made by the First Minister on 5 August 2008 that "railways must at least compete with the roads" reflects current government policy.
Answered by Keith Brown (18/09/2013): An efficient and sustainable transport system is one of the key enablers for delivering the government's purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth in a low carbon economy. Since 2007 this government has invested over £2.6 billion in the Trunk Road Network and over £4 billion in rail and a number of vital projects are planned or in construction which will bring a range of benefits to our economy. In this context, the recommended interventions within the Strategic Transport Projects Review have assisted ministers in developing the Infrastructure Investment Plan which will help towards creating a more successful country through increasing sustainable economic growth and making a significant contribution to the National Transport Strategy. These interventions include fourteen relating to rail and eight relating to roads.
(This rail investment has largely been south of the Highland Main Line, though welcome nonetheless, particularly improvements at Haymarket and Waverley stations.)
Question S4W-16989: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 05/09/2013
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will be a condition of the next rail franchise for the operator to improve rolling stock and, if so, what impact it expects this to have on journey times.
Answered by Keith Brown (18/09/2013): The selection criteria for the next ScotRail franchisee create an incentive for journey time improvements across the Scottish Rail network. The selection criteria will also encourage improvements to rolling stock quality and journey time on the Scottish inter-city routes from the Central Belt to Inverness and to Aberdeen. The next ScotRail franchisee is required to procure new electric rolling stock for the electrified Edinburgh to Glasgow route which must be capable of reducing the journey time for the fastest journey to 42 minutes. The Caledonian Sleeper franchisee must introduce significantly improved rolling stock.
Question S4W-17453: David Stewart, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/09/2013
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it plans with the Department for Transport regarding the next east coast franchise and whether these will include making provision for a hot food service for services travelling north of Edinburgh.
Answered by Nicola Sturgeon (03/10/2013): Transport Scotland is in regular dialogue with the Department for Transport as it prepares plans to re-let the InterCity East Coast franchise. In these discussions, and in previous written advice to the department, we have highlighted that services between London and Aberdeen and Inverness represent some of the longest duration passenger rail services in Britain, and that it is important that a full catering service is maintained on those services.(The plans for the SET shown on our centre-page spread seem to suggest cold food only, at least in standard class.)
Question S4W-17457: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 24/09/2013
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with Network Rail regarding weight restrictions on bridges that would require tilting trains to reduce their speed; which bridges it has identified as requiring tilting trains to reduce their speed, and what remedial work will be undertaken as a result.
Answered by Keith Brown (03/10/2013): No specific discussions have been held with Network Rail regarding weight restrictions on bridges that would require tilting trains to reduce their speed. It will be for bidders for the next ScotRail franchise to propose a rolling stock, timetable and service pattern solution to address the Scottish Government's output requirements. To do this we expect them to engage with Network Rail to ensure that the rail industry works together to deliver the best value solution.
Question S4W-18101: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 06/11/2013
To ask the Scottish Government for what reasons an emergency timetable extending journey times for railway services on the Far North and Kyle line was introduced on 28 October 2013.
Answered by Keith Brown (13/11/2013): A modified timetable has been introduced for services between Inverness and Thurso/Wick and Kyle of Lochalsh to improve the punctuality and reliability of the timetable and ensure connection times are met with other public transport services. Not all services on these routes have been adversely affected with the introduction of this new timetable. Of those services that have been affected, journey times have been extended by a maximum of two minutes. Network Rail and First ScotRail are working closely together to produce an improved and more resilient timetable for Far North and Kyle services, which is expected to be introduced for the May 2014 timetable change.