Winter Resilience Statement
The update covered planning for all major modes of transport, including a record amount of winter vehicles available to service the trunk road network and work with rail partners to improve resilience on the rail network.
Mr Mackay said:
“The Scottish Government has taken a wide range of steps to improve our resilience to the challenges of winter. This will help us mitigate the impact of severe weather, recover our transport networks and get daily life back to normal as quickly as possible.
“We are working in partnership with a broad range of public, private and third sector partners and measures include new investment, as well as development and innovation, all learning the lessons from recent winters.
“On the trunk road network, our winter fleet has been bolstered with 57 new state-of-the-art gritters. That means we will have a record 205 vehicles on hand to spread salt and plough snow.
“Salt stocks are also very healthy. As of the 7th October, there is approximately 674,000 tonnes in stock or on order, exceeding the total amount of salt used across Scotland last winter.
“Traffic Scotland’s National Control Centre at South Queensferry will continue to be the hub of co-ordination and joint working. Key routes will be monitored via sensors and live cameras, and road users will be kept up to date through a range of media, including internet radio and smartphone updates on the move, in addition to more traditional methods. A record number of people are using our information services, with over 100,000 now following the Traffic Scotland twitter feed.
“On the rail network, we are working closely with the ScotRail Alliance and expect to see further improvements in operational response, customer services and travel advice offered, when compared to the winters of two and three years ago.
“This includes additional winter maintenance equipment at ScotRail depots, a new mobile snow and ice clearance machine that can thaw junctions quickly and providing enhanced resilience on key routes.
“In the aviation sector, substantial investment has been made by airports on new measures to improve winter resilience since 2010 and 2011 respectively. Glasgow Airport has invested approximately £3 million in new snow clearing equipment, including two new runway sweepers. Aberdeen Airport has invested over £1 million in new snow clearing and de-icing equipment.
“Our own airport group, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), will benefit from advanced weather forecasting at all of its airports and new de-icing sprayers are being introduced at our smaller airports for resilience purposes.
“Disruption to ferry services is not uncommon during winter. Ferry travel has its own distinct challenges, particularly high winds, and the ship’s Master has a duty to ensure the safety of passengers above other considerations.
“However, operators will continue to inform their customers of disruptions and cancellations as a matter of course via notifications on their websites, emails, text messages and direct contact. It is important to remember the decision to delay or cancel a sailing is never taken lightly as ferry operators fully recognise the importance of the ferry service to the island and rural communities they serve.
“We will learn something new each time Scotland is beset by severe weather. The Scottish Government and the responder community are doing all that we can to build Scotland’s resilience to severe weather for winter and all year round.
“We can’t prevent the weather, but we can prepare for it. Our priority, as always, is to keep Scotland moving across all modes of transport.”