Five-year improvement strategy

Spending to rise as transport chiefs spell out rail plan

High Speed Train

Investment plan: Transport Scotland aims for improved services


Transport Scotland has unveiled a five-year programme of investment in the rail industry aimed at improving performance.

A 21% increase in expenditure on the day to day running of the rail network was presented to the Rail North of Border Conference in Glasgow attended by almost 300 rail specialists, including those in the supply chain.

Together with industry partners, Transport Scotland shared information on a series of proposed projects under consideration, including

  • improving the reliability of services to the Scottish Borders and beyond
  • more services and faster journeys between major cities, including Perth, Aberdeen and Inverness;
  • improving services to rural communities on the West Highland and Far North Lines;
  • tackling environmental issues through electrification and exploring new technologies such as battery and hydrogen trains.

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said: “Rail provides vital connections between our cities, our communities, our businesses, and showcases all that Scotland has to offer. That is why we have invested an unprecedented £8bn in this key part of the economy across Scotland since 2007.

“Scotland saw the highest regional growth with passengers making 102 million journeys in 2017/2018. Despite the financial pressures imposed by the UK Government, we have confidence in the future of rail.

“Through our new projects pipeline we will address the cost and delivery challenges witnessed in recent years. It will also give confidence to the rail supply chain, in that it assures a steady stream of work for the next five years.

“My biggest frustration however, has been operating with one hand tied behind my back. Franchising, in its current form, doesn’t work and we must use the opportunity provided by Keith William’s review of the industry as a means of delivering real and meaningful structural change in Scotland.

“Nothing short of full devolution of rail powers is needed.”

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