Scottish Government to upgrade local railways

shallow focus photography of railway during sunset

Government grants could help connect communities (Credit: Albin Berlin on Pexels.com)

 

The Scottish Government’s Local Rail Development Fund has re-opened after a successful first round, which saw £700,000 awarded to communities to go towards improvements on local lines.

The first round of the Local Rail Development Fund began in February 2018 and 10 communities were given award grants totalling £681,000 in August after submitting their applications, with the aim of the fund to carry out transport appraisals which have the potential to bring forward proposals for improvements to rail connections in the area. The fund was initially given £2 million to distribute to various communities and after the interest generated from the first round, Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, decided to re-launch the fund with the remaining balance of £1.3 million up for grabs.

Matheson said: “This £2 million fund will help communities bring forward proposals to tackle specific local rail connectivity issues, which will form part of our considerations for long-term investment in Scotland’s transport system. Ten communities are already benefiting from £700,000 worth of grants, I am keen to encourage more bids for the remaining funds this time round.

“Since 2007, we have invested around £8 billion to help build the best railway Scotland has ever had. The success of this relies on communities embracing the potential harnessed by the railway and it is very pleasing to see so much interest in the Local Rail Development Fund.”

For a community, having good rail links can be key to expanding businesses and attracting tourism. One of the recipients of funding from the first round, StARLink – which aims to provide additional transport link in and around St Andrews – will benefit the town and occupants massively. St Andrews is a historic tourist destination, known worldwide as the home of golf and Scotland’s oldest university, but has suffered years of increasing traffic due to the lack of public transport. Currently the only public transport in the town is local buses, but being able to add rail links to the nearby city of Dundee or capital Edinburgh, will allow tourists to easily make the journey to St Andrews.

Jane Ann Liston, StARLink Convenor said: “The StARLink campaign believes that the option of direct rail travel from Edinburgh and Dundee to the town would significantly alleviate both the physical and environmental effects of too many cars in a small town. Improving the connectivity with the likes of Cupar, Dundee and Dunfermline will spread the economic benefits generated by St Andrews over the whole of Fife and across the Tay.”

Allowing communities to submit proposals for the funding will ensure that the transport links are designed to benefit those who will use them most. The communities know themselves what time will be the busiest, how many people will use the transport links and even down to where the proposed rail stations should be placed within the town. The communities know their town best and should be able to make the executive decisions when it comes to transport links that effect them and will hopefully benefit the town for years to come.

The successful applicants from the first round are:

East Lothian Council – Haddington

Fife Council – Cross Forth Travel

Hitrans – HMNB Clyde Transport Opportunities

Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Community Council – Access to Linlithgow Station

Nestrans – Accessibility at Insch Station

Newburgh Train Station Group – Newburgh

StARLink – St Andrews

South Lanarkshire Council – Connectivity in Clydeside

Tactran – Bridge of Earn/Oudenarde Park & Ride

Tactran – Stirling Strategic Park & Ride

Scotrail Satisfaction Plummets to 14-year Low

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPassenger satisfaction with ScotRail has reached a 14 year low according to the watchdog Transport Focus.

Satisfaction dropped to 83 per cent, its lowest since 2002. This is down from 87 per cent in Spring of last year.

By comparison, Virgin Trains East Coast, which run from Scotland to London, celebrated a three year high of 91 per cent.

These figures come four months after ministers ordered a plan to improve punctuality, however this was an issue for passengers, as there was a six point decrease in punctuality.

The 83 percent satisfaction rate does, however, keep their levels higher than the recorded National Average.

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