I attended the Rail Enhancements and Capital Investment Strategy & Local Rail Development Fund Workshop in Glasgow on 16th April, led by Gordon MacLeod, Acting Head of Rail Policy, Transport Scotland.
The workshop's aim was to inform everyone who might be involved in promoting a rail project about the process as it now stands.
Transport Scotland is moving away from the Control Periods of five years to a 'pipeline' method. This is aimed at achieving more flexibility about what is done when and in what order.
The STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) process, and the passing through the various stages of Network Rail's GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects), is mostly unchanged. The terminology is now that there is a 'pre-pipeline' process to work up a project and decide whether it's viable and desirable. If it gets through this it enters the 'pipeline' where detailed design work is carried out and an Outline Business case is made. If successful here it proceeds to a Final Business Case and if that is successful it will be built. At each stage there is the option for acceptance, refusal or holding back a project to a later date.
We learnt that the pipeline will be more flexible than the Control Periods because it will be possible to change the order in which projects are carried out, responding to the supply of funds and making best use of workforce and equipment availability.
Transport Scotland is currently learning how best to operate the new system and is aware of the need for groups such as FoFNL to be able to find out where in the process a given project is, and learn what the timescale for completion is likely to be. The stated aim is to be as transparent as possible.