Government’s multi-billion spending on roads will damage rail services

A recent Government report has shown that the Scottish Government’s multi-billion pound spending on new road projects will damage rail services in Scotland.

The report, released by Transport Scotland, showed that the Government’s £3 billion spending on dualling the A9 road is likely to reduce the viability of rail freight services to and from the north of Scotland.

Whilst the main road between Perth and Inverness is dualled – despite the business case not being clear for this project – the Highland Main Line rail network to Inverness remains largely single track and, in many places, is still dependent on Victorian-era infrastructure.

Commenting on the news, Paul Tetlaw, Head of the Policy Forum at Transform Scotland, said:

It is deeply disappointing to read that yet more rail freight is likely to transfer to the roads as a result of the Scottish Government’s focus on spending the vast bulk of the transport capital budget on road building. The Government’s own report makes this abundantly clear. 

“Whilst the outcome of this concentration on road building will come as no surprise what is much harder to understand is that this runs counter to so many of their declared policies on transport.
“There are clear policy aims to transfer freight from road to rail and equally to achieve modal shift from the car to the train. With such a focus on dualling both the A9 and the A96 roads whilst merely tinkering at the margins with the parallel rail routes it is quite likely we’ll also see a loss of passenger traffic from rail to road.
“It is hard to escape the conclusion that we’re witnessing 1960’s transport solutions to 21st century problems. Whilst around the world new high speed rail lines are being built to connect cities in a sustainable manner the Scottish Government appears content to soldier on with a Victoria railway.
“Where now for the policy aim of connecting the Scottish cities by twin track electric railways?”


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