scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Yestermonths in Parliament

Question S4W-18301: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2013

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the protection of the route of the former railway line between Inverkeithing and Perth.

Answered by Keith Brown (20/11/2013): The responsibility for this matter lies with the relevant planning authorities, namely Fife Council and Perth and Kinross Council, rather than the Scottish Government. Scottish Planning Policy clearly states that disused railway lines with a reasonable prospect of being reused as rail, tram or active travel routes should be safeguarded in development plans. Following representations, and examination of the Perth and Kinross Council Local Development Plan, the Reporter has concluded that the Council's development policy in respect of public access should be amended to refuse any development proposals that would have an adverse impact upon the integrity of any disused railway, unless adverse impacts are adequately addressed in the plans and suitable alternative provision is made. However, the Scottish Government has no plans or studies currently considering re-opening the former railway line between Inverkeithing and Perth.

(Then on 3rd March, Transform Scotland launched its Inter-City Express campaign; see below.)

Question S4W-18410: David Stewart, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/11/2013

To ask the Scottish Government what the timescale is for the electrification of railway services between Inverness and (a) Dunkeld and (b) Aberdeen.

Answered by Keith Brown (28/11/2013): No timescale has yet been identified for the electrification of rail services between Inverness and Dunkeld, and Inverness and Aberdeen. These routes will be considered as part of a wider strategy for future electrification.

(David Stewart tried again four months later. See paragraph below.)

Question S4W-18411: David Stewart, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/11/2013

To ask the Scottish Government what the timescale is for the completion of Dalcross railway station.

Answered by Keith Brown (29/11/2013): The reopening of Dalcross railway station currently forms part of phase one of the Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvements project, which will be delivered between 2014 and 2019. To assist in the delivery of the new station, Network Rail will work with station promoters to ensure that the community's needs are met and that third-party funding for the station has been secured to complete phase one by 2019.

Rail Network (Upgrading) [First Minister's Questions, 6 March 2014]

Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con): To ask the First Minister what the Scottish Government's position is on the calls from Transform Scotland to upgrade the rail network.

The First Minister (Alex Salmond): The £5 billion package of funding and investment for our railways in 2019, which represents a figure per head of population that is twice the United Kingdom Government's figure, will support improvements to infrastructure and services across the network. That will benefit freight and passengers alike. The investment will enable substantial improvements to the Highland main line and the Aberdeen to Inverness line, for example, including improvements on the route between Aberdeen and Inverness that aim to deliver an hourly service, a two-hour journey time and enhanced commuter services to both cities and which will enable the opening of new stations at Kintore in Aberdeenshire and Dalcross, which is near Inverness airport. Liz Smith: Everybody welcomes the changes to the infrastructure, but I will ask the First Minister about the pledge that he made in August 2008, when he said that the Scottish Government would reduce the journey time on the Edinburgh to Inverness rail route by 35 minutes by 2012. Two years on, when will that pledge be met? The First Minister: I just read out to Liz Smith the investment profile for Inverness and Aberdeen. I am glad that she welcomes what is being done, because there are substantial improvements. For example, there is a 33 per cent rise in passenger numbers, 26.5 miles of new railway line and an investment programme that is twice that of the UK Government. I know that, in her normal cheery way, Liz Smith will see that as progress. I undertake to see that progress continue in the rail network in Scotland.

(As we can see, the First Minister ignored Inter-City Express. Liz Smith proposes to take it further in writing; we hope to report on the outcome in the next FNE. We assume that the 26.5 miles of new railway referred to is the Borders railway between Newcraighall and Tweedbank but this is quite a long way from the routes mentioned in the question.)

Question S4W-20156: David Stewart, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/03/2014

To ask the Scottish Government what the (a) budget and (b) timeframe is for completion of improvements to the (i) Highland Main Line and (ii) Inverness to Aberdeen line.

Answered by Keith Brown (26/03/2014): Phase 1 of the Aberdeen to Inverness line improvements, which includes the new stations at Dalcross and Kintore and phase 2 of improvements on the Highland Main Line are fully funded within the Office of Rail Regulations (ORR) overall regulatory determination for Control Period 5 (2014-19) and will be delivered by Network Rail by March 2019. Future phases of the Highland Main Line project will be delivered in subsequent control periods to 2025 and future phases of Aberdeen to Inverness by 2030. Associated funding requirements will be determined by the ORR.

Question S4W-20157: David Stewart, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 12/03/2014

To ask the Scottish Government what its policy is on electrification of the (a) Inverness to Aberdeen and (b) Inverness to Glasgow/Edinburgh railway lines.

Answered by Keith Brown (26/03/2014): We recognise that there have been decades of underinvestment in Scotland's transport infrastructure, as was recently confirmed by the UK Secretary of State for Transport. This Scottish Government has invested over £9.5 billion in transport since 2007, and is committed to a further £5 billion investment programme in rail infrastructure and services between 2014 and 2019. This includes an estimated £200 million rolling programme of investment in network electrification beyond that committed as part of Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme. This Government recognises the economic and environmental benefits of electrifying our rail network. We are working with the rail industry to develop a strategy and identify our priorities for future phases of electrification beyond the current committed schemes identified in Control Period 5 (2014-19). All non-electrified routes will be considered as part of the strategy to determine the optimal way forward for electrifying the rest of the network.