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Campaign calls for Scottish rail revolution

This news post is about 10 years old

Revolutionising rail travel in Scotland could make it cheaper, faster, safer and greener.

With a fit-for-purpose Perth-Inverness railway, for example, we could increase the number of daily freight trains from two to as many as eight in each direction.

Scotland's rail network urgently needs investment to meet the needs of passengers and climate change targets, says Transform Scotland.

The key features of itsInter-City Express campaign includes the electrification of much of the country's network and creating a new hub at Perth station to make it easier to reach all seven cities of Scotland by rail.

The national alliance for sustainable transport, Transform Scotland, claims current journey times are unacceptable. Its spokesman Paul Tetlaw highlighted that the fastest rail journey from Perth to Edinburgh is currently 71 minutes, six minutes slower than it was 100 years ago, and substantially slower than by road.

"Scotland needs a rail revolution," Tetlaw said.

"Our campaign will build broad civic support for a planned programme of investment in the Scottish rail network over the next 15 years to bring all seven of Scotland's cities closer together with a safe, civilised and sustainable mode of transport and make Scotland's rail network fit for the 21st century.

"In doing so, we can reduce journey times, support travellers and commuters, create jobs, support the Scottish economy and reduce Scotland's carbon emissions."

Transform, is an independent charity with a membership of around 60 organisations. It is asking supporters to sign up to show support for the campaign on its website.

Campaign supporter Rail Freight Group said freight transport would benefit enormously from upgrading the rail infrastructure north of the central belt.

Group spokesperson David Spaven said: "With a fit-for-purpose Perth to Inverness railway, for example, we could increase the number of daily freight trains from two to as many as eight in each direction.

"That’s the equivalent of taking more than 300 lorries off the A9 every day."

The campaign is also supported by Capital Rail Action Group, the Friends of the Far North Line and the Scottish Association for Public Transport.

Richard Ardern, spokesperson for Friends of the Far North Line, said the rail lines south from Inverness to Perth and east to Aberdeen are long overdue for development.

"In the short-term, there is an opportunity for more appropriate trains to be brought on to the route," he added.

"In the longer term, the ambition should be for a dualled and electrified Highland Main Line as only this level of investment will allow the sustainable, passenger and freight options to compete with the road alternative."

Key aims of the Inter-City Express campaign
Extend planned rail electrification from Perth to Dunblane, double the track and electrify the Inverness to Perth line.
Electrifiy and extensive track doubling of the relevant rail lines from Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee to the central belt.
Modernise the single track rail line from Aberdeen to Inverness.
Build and electrify a new direct rail link from Perth to Edinburgh, cutting up to 35 minutes off journey times from Inverness and Perth to Edinburgh.
Create a new Inter-City rail hub at Perth station.