Network Rail - Industry unveils plans for growth in Scotland

The Initial Industry Plan (IIP) sets out how the industry could build on recent improvements in cost efficiency and cut the cost of running the Scottish railway by £72m per annum by 2019.

These savings, combined with growth, could see the annual cost of the railway to the taxpayer reduced. This would be achieved through initiatives already in hand, greater cross-industry collaboration and changes in the way government procures passenger rail services.

The development of both this IIP and the IIP for England and Wales, which is also published today, has been overseen by the Planning Oversight Group (POG) which involves representatives of Network Rail, passenger and freight train operators and suppliers.

By making rail more affordable, the plan gives ministers the chance to make choices on the balance between investment, fares and subsidy when taking decisions on future transport policy. Network Rail, train operators and industry suppliers believe continued investment in rail would deliver major benefits for the country and they set out options for investment which if adopted in full would:

· Stimulate economic growth by linking better Scotland’s major population centres and accommodating an increase in rail freight

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· Maintain high levels of reliability and safety, focussing on areas in particular need of improvement

· Better meet passengers’ needs in key areas such as journey information, comfort and accessibility to drive continued improvement in customer satisfaction

· Reduce the industry’s CO² emissions in Scotland by 28% by the end of 2019.

The IIP also identifies a rage of investment options for consideration which would improve efficiency and safety while also making the Scottish railway more environmentally-friendly.

A full range of investment options are included as key projects to enhance the Scottish network, such as the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme which is already under way. The IIP also includes proposals for up to an additional £699 million investment beyond that already committed. This range of other schemes includes:

· Increasing the amount of electrified railway in Scotland from the current 23% of the network to 42% by 2019, with future phases of electrification including the Whifflet, Shotts, East Kilbride, Barrhead and City Union lines identified for CP5 and beyond to take the amount of electrified network to 62%

· A £200m scheme to improve journey times and increase the numbers of services to and from Inverness and Aberdeen

· A £37m project to upgrade the highland main line increasing capacity and reducing journey times between Inverness and Perth

· A £42m fund to enhance protection and reduce incidents at level crossings, including reducing the number of AOCL crossings in Scotland consistent with the RAIB’s recent recommendations

· A £50m fund to invest in the Scottish freight network

David Simpson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland, said: “The railways are booming with more and more people choosing rail and in the years ahead greater collaboration within the industry will deliver even more efficiencies for the government and passengers.

“The IIP provides the Scottish Government with real choices to consider and outlines a range of options which will help to increase socio-economic opportunities for Scotland’s people and businesses and also make the country’s railways even greener.”

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, added: “We look forward to the continued investment in Scotland’s railway. It will provide better services, further boost access to jobs, education and leisure, and is a real alternative to the car. We will play our part in delivering the goals.”

The IIP is the first major step in the process that will inform decisions to be made by governments and the Office of Rail Regulation affecting the railways in control period 5, 2014 to 2019.

City.Mobi

Also in Scotland today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Edinburgh.

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Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.

Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.

City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.