Question S5W-18438: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Green Party, answered, 13/09/18
To ask the Scottish Government how many trains were (a) cancelled or (b) delayed by the Highland Chieftain breakdown on the single track at Kingussie on 13 August 2018, and how long (i) the delay was in minutes and (ii) it took to get all the passengers on their way in light of reports that the following ScotRail trains were already at capacity.
Michael Matheson: Due to breakdown of the Highland Chieftain on 13 August 2018, a total of 6 ScotRail trains were cancelled, with 3 of these being full cancellations and 3 part cancellation. A total of 31 ScotRail trains were delayed, amounting to 388 total delay minutes.
Passengers that were on-board the Highland Chieftain service alighted at Kingussie and were accommodated on ScotRail services with no welfare issues reported.
Excerpt from Topical Question Time 25-09-18:
John Finnie: The cabinet secretary will be aware that one of the major factors contributing to low performance, particularly in the Highlands, is the preponderance of single track. He will know that there have recently been a number of breakdowns and that a single breakdown can bring the whole Highland main line to a halt. Will he commit to significant investment, beyond the modest investment that is already in place for control period 6 - particularly when compared with the £3 billion expenditure on the road that runs beside the Highland main line - to address that issue?
Michael Matheson: I discussed that very matter with the member just last week. He will be aware of current investment in the Highland main line. The STPR will allow us to look at what further investment should be made, including how we can improve resilience on the existing line. Full details will be set out once we have completed the review work, but a key part of it will be about improving journey times and resilience on the Highland main line.
Question S5W-20532: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Green Party, answered 20/12/18
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with ScotRail regarding any plans to increase the frequency of rail services between Inverness and Elgin.
Michael Matheson: ScotRail's December 2018 timetable change introduced 9 additional services between Inverness and Elgin, delivering a near hourly all day service for Nairn, Forres and Elgin.
By the end of 2019, in conjunction with ScotRail's new trains, Revolution in Rail will deliver the following changes between Elgin and Inverness:
Question S5W-20533: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Green Party, answered 20/12/18
To ask the Scottish Government, in light of its responsibility for prioritising rail infrastructure projects, whether it has plans to reinstate double track on the rail line between Inverness and Dalcross.
Michael Matheson: Planning for rail projects in the next Control Period (CP 6) will follow the new pipeline approach set out in the Rail Enhancements and Capital Investment Strategy, published on 19 March 2018.
We have asked Network Rail to explore options for the next stage of the Aberdeen to Inverness project, including options for further doubling. This will build on the benefits which will be delivered from the current phase of works. New projects will be grant funded, and will only be progressed when the business case is fully developed and there is greater certainty on price, affordability and the capacity of the rail industry supply chain to deliver.
Question S5W-20534: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Green Party, answered 20/12/18
To ask the Scottish Government what assessment has been made of the length of time trains wait at passing loops on the Inverness to Aberdeen rail line, and how this can be reduced.
Michael Matheson: No bespoke assessment has been made of the length of time trains wait at passing loops on the Inverness to Aberdeen rail line. However, Scottish Ministers have made clear to Network Rail that they must do more when working with ScotRail to develop timetables that make the best use of the significant Scottish Government investment in the infrastructure between Inverness and Elgin. I would ask the member to support our call for Network Rail's accountability to be devolved to Scottish Ministers.