£5 billion investment in rail improvement plan
An ambitious new plan of targeted investment in the rail network over five years has been described as a ‘bold step forward’. Plans for improved punctuality, better journey times and affordable fares are all included as part of the new rail franchise from 2014 that will be put out to tender.
The franchisee will be expected to improve performance, increase passenger numbers and enhance the rail experience for passengers. The Caledonian Sleeper service will form a separate franchise which will last fifteen years and see a significant level of investment.
The Scottish Government has also made clear it will look for innovative fare packages to boost passenger numbers on off-peak and lightly-used services.
Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP also announced the creation of Community Rail Partnerships to require the industry to establish facilities and services that meet local needs.
Commenting after the Transport Minister’s announcement, SNP MSP Graeme Dey said:
“This is a substantial set of measures that will help to secure a far better experience for rail passengers in Scotland.
“The Rail 2014 consultation had a huge response rate with the travelling public making clear the importance which they put on reliability and punctuality. Meeting the high expectations of rail passengers will rightly be at the heart of the next franchise.
“This new agreement will see improved journey times, more punctual services and increased passenger numbers on Scotland’s railways.
“The creation of Community Rail Partnerships will put also local passengers back at the heart of their rail service where they belong.
“This is a fantastic package of investment and a bold step forward for the rail network in Scotland. Yet we are still bound by the UK framework on rail which prevents us from going even further. With sole responsibility for rail in Scotland, the results we could achieve would be even better so it is disappointing that the UK Government has not responded to the Scottish Government when it has made that point.”