With the start of the new timetable from 11 December 2016 the average southbound weekday journey times between Inverness and Edinburgh and Glasgow are now worse than before the much hailed journey time improvements of December 2012. The average journey time to Edinburgh is now 5 minutes worse than in 2011 and that to Glasgow 3 minutes worse. Northbound from Edinburgh four of the 7 minutes gained have now been lost and from Glasgow one of the 5 minutes gained has been lost. This is most disappointing.
The opening of the new Edinburgh Gateway interchange (with the tram for the airport) is a major factor but doesn't apply to the services to Glasgow. The Aberdeen expresses do not stop at Gateway but it has been decided to trial a stop there for the Inverness expresses, the only expresses to do so.
An extra 5 minutes have been added to the 06:50 business train from Inverness over the last few miles of its journey such that it does not now reach Waverley until 10:08. It still leaves Kirkcaldy at 09:25 as it did in 2006/7 when it was timed to reach Waverley at 09:59. Timings from Gateway to Waverley are generally 14 minutes (18 minutes for the 06:50 "express") but in the opposite direction are only 10 minutes.
There will be passengers who appreciate the call at Gateway especially if they are using the airport, but I suspect that the majority of long distance passengers would rather have the quickest possible journey to central Edinburgh. It is envisaged that the 2018/9 speed up will see Inverness trains call only at Haymarket and Kirkcaldy south of Perth. No doubt the use, or not, of the Gateway call by these trains will be monitored to see whether it is justified.
Question S4W-29000: David Stewart, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, answered 05/01/2016To ask the Scottish Government what the average (a) weekday, (b) Saturday and (c) Sunday journey time is on the (i) Inverness to Edinburgh, (ii) Edinburgh to Inverness, (iii) Inverness to Glasgow and (iv) Glasgow to Inverness rail service, and how this compares with each year since 2011.
Derek Mackay: (a) average weekday journey time (current timings added by us for comparison)
5.22 Highland Mainline has suffered from slow development progress to date, with two revised development milestones in CP5 and as yet no fixed scope. A recent risk assessment has however provided a degree of confidence that the project can deliver its outputs by the regulatory milestone of March 2019.
5.23 The project cost estimate however remains stable and Network Rail Scotland has taken advantage of timetabling opportunities enabled by the ScotRail Alliance to develop a high-level scope and estimate that will deliver the journey time improvements via a small number of limited infrastructure interventions. This represents a significant efficiency on the initial estimates for the project and demonstrates the value of a collaborative, system-based approach to enhancements. The Alliance and Transport Scotland are currently exploring further efficient scope options to deliver additional outputs as part of the broader Highland Enhancements Programme. We will carry out an efficiency review of Highland Mainline costs once detailed design work has been completed and a robust estimate for the project has been developed.