Passengers already benefit from lower fares; more seats, extra services and more stations, but there’s much still to do.
Here’s what we’re doing.
Since we took office we’ve invested over £7.7 billion to maintain and upgrade tracks, stations and trains in Scotland. And in the period to 2019, we’ll invest an additional £5 billion. On a per head basis, over the same period, that’s double what the UK government has invested in the rail network.
Scottish Government investment is helping keeping rail fares more affordable for passengers. Around 60 per cent of running Scotland’s railways is met through government subsidy. In England, the figure is about 20 per cent.
Scotland’s rail passengers benefit from the lowest levels of fare increases since rail powers were devolved in 2005. And we’ve taken action to keep ScotRail fares down in the future too. Peak fare increases are capped at inflation only (Retail Price Index or RPI) and off-peak regulated fare increases are capped at one per cent below RPI.
This year we’ve offered annual and monthly rail season ticket holders one week’s free travel – and 90 per cent of season ticket holders took up the offer. Plus, those looking for work and in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance can benefit from up to two free tickets a month for interviews – and a free monthly season ticket when they secure work.
Since the SNP came to office in 2007, the number of daily train services has increased from around 2,000 to almost 2,300.
We will now go further. From late 2018 there will be 200 extra train services per day. That means more regular, local services as well as inter-city services. Investment in our new electric fleet will mean reductions in inter-city journey times too.
An extra 200 carriages will be added to the Scotrail fleet over the next 30 months – an increase in carriages of over 50 per cent since 2007.
Under the SNP, 14 new stations have opened across the country – and funds are already committed for even more.
Here’s just some of the projects we’ve delivered or are delivering:
The Borders Railway – the longest new domestic railway line the UK has seen for 100 years – was completed on time and on budget.
The £742 million Edinburgh Glasgow rail improvements, which include widespread electrification of the network between the two cities and to Stirling and Dunblane, are well under way.
The £170 million Aberdeen Inverness rail upgrade is in development, and will see shorter journey times between the two cities, as well as new stations at Dalcross and Kintore.
The Paisley Canal, Cumbernauld and Whifflet routes have been electrified.
Haymarket station has been revamped and the transformation of Dundee station is underway too.
In stark contrast, the UK government’s track record south of the border has been one of cancellations and huge cost overruns.
While ScotRail’s performance already outpaces the GB average, and is higher than under previous Labour/LibDem administrations, the new franchise now requires ScotRail to deliver high levels of passenger satisfaction and contains the toughest quality regime in the UK. Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has made clear to ScotRail bosses about the need to drive up standards.
The SNP government has begun work towards our 2016 manifesto commitment to ensure a public sector body is able to bid for rail franchises in Scotland.
The power to allow a public sector bid for rail franchises was secured by the SNP government, after being repeatedly denied by successive Labour and Tory governments.