£5bn investment for Scottish rail announced
More reliable trains and improved infrastructure were amongst the plans outlined for the future of Scottish rail services yesterday. Transport minister Keith Brown announced £5bn investment ahead of the expiry of ScotRail’s contract in 2014.
Brown called for the new franchisee to improve services between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and pledged 100km a year of new electrification between 2014 and 2019.
£60m has been earmarked for improving journey times, and planned infrastructure projects such as the Borders Railway will also be expanded.
Operators will be expected to link trains with other forms of transport and deliver wi-fi across the network.
The next franchise will be extended to run for ten years, with a potential ‘break point’ after five. The franchise to operate the Caledonian sleeper service is expected to run for 15 years.
Brown told the Scottish Parliament: “We have created a comprehensive package of measures which, working with the rail industry, employees and passengers, will deliver high-quality rail infrastructure and services responsive to Scotland’s needs, representing good value for money, supporting our businesses and communities, promoting tourism and offering real alternatives to road and air travel.
“Scotland deserves a 21st century railway and this government will see it delivered.”
But Labour’s Richard Baker said: “It represents the end of a protracted climb-down after a much-criticised consultation which proposed ending cross-border services, withdrawing sleeper services and closing large numbers of stations.
“These proposals met with opposition, not only in this chamber, but in communities and from trade unions.”
Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “The sooner money is spent onScotland’s railways, the sooner passengers will feel the benefits.
“When franchises are being established it is vital that the needs of passengers who use and pay for rail services are placed squarely at the heart of them.”
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