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Scottish rail infrastructure strategy launched ahead of government HLOS

The rail industry has come together to launch a major new infrastructure strategy for Scotland, which sets out how the sector can benefit the country’s economy.

The report, published by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), was developed by experts across Scotland’s railway network, including Network Rail, ScotRail, cross-border operators and freight companies.

The document outlines a range of potential moves for the Scottish government in their plans for the  short- and long-term future of Scotland’s railway as it consults on its High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for CP6.

Jo Kaye, chair of the RDG’s planning oversight group as well as director of network strategy and planning at Network Rail, said: “With long-term growth in passengers, Scotland’s railway is becoming ever more important to the nation’s prosperity as more people use the network to get to work, to enjoy their spare time and to do business.

“In addition, rail freight has a crucial role to play in helping companies to do business more efficiently. Against this backdrop, it’s vitally important that we continue to plan for the railway the country needs, now and in the future.”

The report focuses on decisions which will affect lines and services across Scotland, considering what can be done to increase capacity and frequency on the network while encouraging interaction between industry bodies to make services more efficient.

Options proposed by the report include potential improvements at Scotland’s two main stations, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley, as well as the construction of brand new stations and tracks and other investments to either slash journey times or run more trains.

The next few steps in the future of Scotland’s railways were also outlined in the document. Before the Scottish government publishes its HLOS requirements, the ORR will be providing advice to ministers. Then, later this year, Network Rail will publish its Strategic Business Plan before the ORR’s regulatory determination in 2018.

“The industry will continue to working to ensure that the outcomes specified by government meet the needs of passengers and freight shippers,” said the report. “Establishing a simple, credible approach to measuring and incentivising strong train performance will need continuing and transparent engagement between Network Rail, train operators, the Scottish Government and rail user representatives.

“As the industry moves towards a pipeline-based approach to both strategic planning and the delivery of investment, processes will continue to develop. The industry is working closely with government to inform the HLOS and the regulatory review process, as well as applying lessons learned from recent experience.”

Mirroring a trend across the UK, rail travel in Scotland is becoming more popular than ever before, with over 96 million journeys made across the country last year.

Phil Verster, the departing managing director of ScotRail Alliance, argued that such projects will play an “important role” as Scotland’s railway continues its biggest period of improvements since the Victorian era.

“Across the country huge investment is being delivered to increase capacity, improve passenger facilities and introduce new trains,” Verster, who was interviewed for the October/November edition of RTM, added.

“Scotland’s rail Infrastructure will play an important role in making sure we can continue to invest in rail in the years ahead, offering clear options for the future and setting out key choices for our funders.”

But despite this optimism, the RDG’s former Scotland-focused report published in September last year –  which sought to paint a clearer picture of the challenges facing the country’s rail industry –had argued that the sector would need to identify the “trade-offs” that might need to be made at an early stage in decision-making.

The economic and social outcomes that the Scottish government hopes to achieve, the report had said, will depend on specific levels and types of connectivity being provided – and delivering this in a cash-constrained environment means funders will likely have to prioritise and phase outcomes delivery.

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Andrew Gwilt   20/02/2017 at 01:11

Other AC 25kv OHL electrification schemes involving electrifying other Scotland's railways could be approved including electrification on the Borders Line (formerly Waverley Line with future extension to Carlisle), Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow suburban routes (that are not electrified could possibly in future be electrified with 25kv Overhead such as Shotts Line and Glasgow South Western Line) and other lines in Scotland including Southern Scotland that could also see some local with the possiblity of getting the approval to be electrified.

Andrew Gwilt   20/02/2017 at 01:57

*Apologises I was mistaken!! The Shotts Line is planned to be electrified. But the Glasgow South Western Line "GSWL" could be planned for future electrification. Which if the electrification on the GSWL is approved then it will be electrified to East Kilbride, Kilmarnock, Dumfries and Stranraer with some lines already electrified with 25kv Overhead including Troon, Ayr and Barassie with the branch line from Barassie to Kilmarnock could be planned for electrification.

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