Question S5W-13801: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Green Party, answered: 23/01/18
To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made toward improved rail journey times of between 2 hours 45 minutes and 3 hours between Edinburgh and Inverness.
Humza Yousaf: The Scottish Government's Infrastructure Investment Plan, published in 2011, stated that the Highland Main Line Rail Improvement project will be completed in phases between 2014 and 2025.
The long term aim of the project sought to achieve a journey time of 2hrs 45 minutes between Inverness and the Central Belt, with an average journey time of 3 hours and hourly service by 2025.
Phase One of the project introduced two extra services per day each way and journey time improvements of up to 18 minutes in December 2012.
Phase Two of the project, which is scheduled to be delivered Spring 2019, aims to achieve (i) an hourly service between Perth-Inverness extended to Glasgow or Edinburgh, (ii) average end to end journey time improvement of around 10 mins, (iii) more efficient freight operations.
The exact scope and timing of works for future phases has yet to be determined, and will be led initially by the forthcoming refresh of the Scottish Government's Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR). The STPR will be informed by a review of our National Transport Strategy (NTS) which is underway.
Question S5W-14851: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Green Party, answered: 09/03/18
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the UK Government regarding the devolution of the functions of Network Rail.
Humza Yousaf: The Scottish Government has been pressing the UK Government for some time now for the full devolution of the Network Rail Scotland Route. Strengthened accountability to the Scottish Parliament and improved governance arrangements will improve efficiency and the ability of Network Rail to respond to the requirements of the users of Scotland's rail network.
The UK Government's decision to move Network Rail funding to a Grant basis from 2019 means that the need for change is now a matter of urgency. Initial discussions took place between officials from Transport Scotland and the UK Department for Transport at the end of last year. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution also wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport on 27th February seeking a speedy conclusion to this matter.
I recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport about Network Rail and the letter is available from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Bib. Number 59598)