The Scottish Budget, announced in February, contained the following rail-related promises. Pandora has added the numbered annotations. In 2020-21 we will:
1 If Scotland's railway is genuinely to decarbonise by 2035 the entire network not currently electrified will have either to be electrified in the next 15 years (presumably Dunblane to Inverness, to Aberdeen, to Dundee and thence to Perth and to Edinburgh; also Perth to Ladybank and the Fife Circle) or to be served by other renewable motive power. This leaves large questions about the long so-called tourist routes.
2 Note that battery-powered trains are to be procured ...
3 ... whereas hydrogen-powered trains are merely to be developed.
4 What is meant here? All trains from Glasgow Queen Street (except those on the West Highland Line and the short local route to Anniesland) are already electric. Is some greener form of electricity generation envisaged? The unspoken word is surely nuclear, for - certainly in England - wholesale extension of electrified traction will necessitate at least one new nuclear power station.
5 Does develop (in 2020/21) imply that upon such development building will follow? And in what time-scale?
6 What is meant by support? Inverness Station (and its wider footprint) development is surely already designed. What support will be required from the Scottish Government? Compulsory buying-out of the hotel car parking contract?
7 How much more than encouragement should the Scottish government provide? Surely in a Budget there is scope for some kind of financial inducement to switch from road to rail (or penalty for failing to do so).
Pandora hopes that once the new Parliament resumes Transport Scotland will be free to publish details of what work - physical work out on the railway - will be undertaken in each of the three remaining years of Control Period 6 (Pandora writes on Day 738, with little sign of where he might usefully go - when permitted to do so - to take photographs of orange-clad railway workers beavering away at the Scottish Government's action plan).