Modern train in railway station in Newtongrange, Scotland, via Istock

Scotland’s investment for the transport sector

The Scottish Government has officially confirmed the key priorities for the future of the transport sector’s investment, through the publication of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2).

This strategic plan will be used to further the growth and development for the countries public transport system, with plans to champion decarbonisation and improve the links of social connectivity in rural and island communities. STPR2 will help deliver the vision, priorities and outcomes set out in the second National Transport Strategy and inform transport investment in Scotland for the next 20 years.

The final report makes 45 recommendations – 38 of which are already underway, including:

  • Mass transit in our biggest city regions: Clyde Metro represents a multi-billion investment over a 30-year period which, when complete, could better connect more than 1.5 million people to employment, education, and health services in and around Glasgow.
  • Rural transport and island communities: As well as significant investment in port infrastructure and strategic road connections, STPR2 recommends the further investigation of potential fixed link connections at the Sound of Harris and Barra, and between Mull and the Scottish mainland.
  • Decarbonisation of public transport: Transport is Scotland’s biggest carbon emitter and STPR2 recommends making funds available for ferry, rail, and bus decarbonisation as well as zero emission vehicles, improving facilities for sustainable freight and behavioural change.
  • Improving active travel infrastructure: encouraging more people to walk, wheel and cycle more often; cutting carbon emissions and improving health and wellbeing, particularly of children, while supporting sustainable economic growth.

The new year will see a Delivery Plan, which will provide further insight for the prioritisation of the STPR2 recommendations, whilst accounting for the available capital budget and fiscal policy for the coming years.

Responding to this news, the RIA Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to sustaining rail funding in the Budget and the publication of the STPR2.

At an RIA Scotland Leadership Group yesterday, a collation of rail leaders discussed STPR2 and the upcoming January publication of the High-Level Output Specification (HLOS) and the Statements of Funds Available (SoFA). These will be used to establish the Network Rail funding from the Scottish Government for the upcoming Control Period 7.  

Meirion Thomas, Chair of RIA Scotland, commented:

“Today’s Budget announcement sustaining funding for rail around capital spend is very much welcome, as is the publication of STPR2. Certainty and clarity are key to the success of the rail supply sector, so it is beneficial to understand which transport investments are being prioritised.

“In addition to the proposed investment in the rail network, it is encouraging to see a commitment to light rail and metro in STPR2, namely the recommendation to progress with the Clyde Metro, along with Edinburgh and South East Scotland Mass Transit. A focus on the importance of the integration of rail with other methods of transport is also welcome, as is the recommendation to provide capital funding to support pilot schemes and demonstration projects for Mobility as a Service. It is now key for the action to match the words: these innovations need to be implemented, rolled out, and scaled up.

“We look forward to the publication of the HLOS and SoFA in early January, which we are hopeful will sustain current levels of activity. Maintaining this investment will allow suppliers to invest in their businesses, drive efficient delivery and ultimately power economic growth, with research showing that every £1 invested in the railway delivers £2.50 of wider economic benefit”.

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