Question S6W-16592: Graham Simpson, MSP for Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, answered on 21 April 2023.
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S6W-15855 by Jenny Gilruth on 28 March 2023, by what percentage has rail freight increased in Scotland since March 2018.
Kevin Stewart: While the decision to use rail is for the freight customer and its logistics provider, the Scottish Government has shown leadership in facilitating modal shift to rail with significant investment and innovative regulatory targets for 2019 to 2024 and 2024 to 2029.
The rail freight target is measured in net tonne miles and, due to the commercial nature of freight, tends to vary considerably from year to year. Currently, there has been an overall 7.6% drop in net tonne miles since 2018 due to a general contraction in the markets for various reasons, including the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and the global economy.
New traffic to rail was 2.9 million net tonne miles in 2019-20 and 48.8 million net tonne miles in 2022-23. This reflects the five new rail freight services which have started in Scotland in the last twelve months including a cross border express logistics services.
Question S6W-17250: Rhoda Grant, MSP for Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, answered on 2 May 2023.
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S6W-14784 by Jenny Gilruth on 16 March 2023, whether it will directly address the issue raised in the question regarding when it will fulfil its commitment to reduce train journey times between Inverness and Edinburgh to 2 hours 45 minutes.
Kevin Stewart: I am unable to commit to a date for delivering this journey time. The costs and benefits for delivering this need to be considered against those for delivering alternative rail enhancement projects, notably those that will contribute towards the decarbonisation of Scotland's railway, within constrained funding.
In the meantime, as set out in our response on 16 March 2023, to PQ S6W-14784, Transport Scotland is, alongside industry partners, exploring options for lengthening passing loops on the Highland Main Line to enable longer and more frequent freight and passenger services.
Transport Scotland will consider these, and further infrastructure enhancements that would enable future journey time savings between Inverness and Edinburgh and Glasgow, within the constraints of available funding and subject to a robust business case.
Question S6W-19065: Beatrice Wishart, MSP for Shetland Islands, Scottish Liberal Democrats, answered on 29 June 2023.
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S6W-18017 by Kevin Stewart on 25 May 2023, for what reason it has delayed the publication of the Fair Fares Review to the end of 2023, and whether it can provide assurance that the Fair Fares Review will be published by this new deadline.
Fiona Hyslop: The Fair Fares Review is progressing well, with work underway with stakeholders and delivery partners to explore the challenges and opportunities facing our public transport system. Also, developing and assessing potential options for change that ensure a sustainable and integrated approach to public transport fares that supports the long term viability of public transport in Scotland. This work will be supported by a broader programme of public engagement planned to commence later this summer.
It is vital that the Fair Fares Review is informed by the most robust and up-to-date evidence and accordingly the review will report by the end of this year in order to take cognisance of emerging evidence such as the Year 1 evaluation of the U22 free bus travel scheme and early findings from the removal of the ScotRail peak-time rail fares pilot. This report will recommend a package of measures that can be considered for implementation from 2024-25 onwards that provide opportunities to address the wider issues impacting on the cost and availability of public transport services across all modes of public transport and that will help ensure that the costs of transport are shared more fairly across government, business and society.
Question S6W-19424: Mark Ruskell, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Green Party, answered on 7 July 2023.
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on progress towards (a) decarbonising Scotland's passenger rail services by 2035 and (b) delivering the Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan.
Fiona Hyslop: Positive progress continues to be made with the electrification of the Glasgow to Barrhead Route and with plans for the electrification of the East Kilbride route now at an advanced stage. Plans for further electrification continue to be developed across the rail network in Scotland including Fife and the Borders.
The Scottish Government has been clear about the extent of the financial pressures the public sector as a whole is facing. The Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan is planned as a dynamic document, with a refresh of the Plan scheduled for later in 2023. The refresh will ensure Transport Scotland continue to prioritise the right projects, in the right place, and at the right time in line with available budgets.
Despite this, significant investment is also under way across Scotland in the form of new feeder stations required to provide the power needed to support the electrification of the network across Scotland.