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Scottish ministers reveal new 10-year rail investment strategy

Scotland’s national transport body has revealed its new decade-long rail investment strategy today, signalling a move towards a “pipeline-based approach” to funding new projects.

Transport Scotland’s Rail Enhancements and Capital Investment Strategy builds on nearly £8bn spent on the country’s railways since 2007 to created further improvements in the network, covering the next two control periods – CP6 and CP7 – from 2019.

The document details a new way of looking at projects which is built around six considerations, including improving connectivity in some of the least accessible areas of the country; increasing capacity across the network in preparation for future demand; and ensuring the competitiveness of rail travel compared to other methods.

However, Scotland’s transport minister, Humza Yousaf, has warned that the country is £460m short of the rail funding it would need to cover all of the improvements it has been advised to complete.

‘‘We’ve learnt from the experience of this and previous Control Periods,” Yousaf said. “We’ve listened to the views of local communities and the rail industry.

“Our strategy will bring to life the new pipeline approach. It will deliver a framework for rail investment with a sharp focus on the right solutions for passengers and freight users, greater efficiency, oversight and value for money.”

Yousaf went on to say that the emphasis on the entire pipeline in this new strategy will help to improve the value for money and timescale of projects.

Transport Scotland will be holding a series of workshops to discuss its plan with stakeholders and allow organisations to submit applications for the Local Rail Delivery Fund – a £2m scheme to support community rail projects.

Dr John McCormick, chairman of the Scottish Association of Public Transport, explained: “The workshops will provide a great opportunity to understand how the new process will operate and how we might influence future investment decisions.

“Having campaigned for many years for rail improvements, we are very interested to hear how the Local Rail Development Fund can assist local communities to achieve their objectives. We will certainly be attending and encourage all those associations, organisations and groups with an interest in Scotland’s railway to do likewise.”

Included in the overall investment strategy are plans to improve connectivity and capacity in some of Scotland’s most remote areas, including the Highlands and the far northernmost towns, which are expected to see a greater volume of passengers in future.

There will also be a commitment to decrease the carbon footprint of Scotland’s rail services and further funding for innovative environmental and technological advancements.

Top image: Jane Barlow, PA Wire

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