Helps Deliver Inclusive Economic Growth

Graphic explaining how we're helping deliver inclusive economic growth, as described below

The success of our economy is built upon our transport system. It helps people get to where they need to be in employment, education and training, enables businesses to trade and compete, and underpins the ongoing development of the production of our goods and services. Our actions show that we are committed to transport connectivity, place a prime value on the reliability of that connectivity, and have a vision for the use of technology and innovation in locking in the benefits of our economic system.

Will get people and goods where they need to get to

  • We remain firmly committed to completing the dualling of the A9 between Perth and Inverness. In September 2023, following extensive market consultation, we commenced a new procurement competition for the £150 million A9 Dualling: Tomatin to Moy project. We expect to award the contract in early Summer 2024 and the project is expected to take around three years to build. This project allows Transport Scotland to set new aspirations for carbon reduction in construction whilst creating employment and training opportunities. Work to determine the most suitable procurement options for the remaining sections of the A9 dualling is now well advanced and we expect to update Parliament on a new programme to completion in Autumn 2023.
  • We remain committed to the north and north east of Scotland, including an enhancements programme on the A96 corridor that improves connectivity between surrounding towns, tackles congestion and addresses safety and environmental issues. The current plan is to fully dual the route and as part of this process we are undertaking a transparent, evidence-based review of the programme. Following publication of the initial appraisal report and the accompanying consultation report at the end of last year, we are now pushing forward with the further detailed work to inform the remaining stages of the review. These include a robust appraisal of the retained options alongside a Climate Compatibility Assessment and statutory assessments, with outcomes from this expected to be ready in the coming months for final public consultation, before a final decision can be reached.
  • We also continue to take forward the preparation stages for dualling the A96 from Inverness to Nairn as well as a bypass of Nairn with a view to completing the statutory authorisation process. This includes the significant ongoing and intensive work required to prepare for publication of Made Orders, including the Compulsory Purchase Order. 
  • Improvements to the A75 and A77 have been identified within the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (Recommendation 40) and the UK’s Union Connectivity Review as vital routes supporting the economies of both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Given the evidence, we will continue to press the UK Department of Transport on achieving full approval of our submitted business case, which is required to secure the necessary funding for design development work on the A75 from the Union Connectivity Development Fund. 
  • We are committed to working with Scotland's airports to help grow our international connectivity, while not returning to previous levels of emissions. Aviation is such an important enabler for so many other parts of the economy and for that reason it remains our aspiration to help Scotland become as well connected as peer nations and regions. In 2023, direct connectivity was enhanced with new services from Scotland to destinations such as Atlanta with Delta Air Lines and Calgary with WestJet. JetBlue also announced their first ever service to Scotland with flights to New York JFK starting in summer 2024. We will continue to work with Scotland’s airports to help secure new routes that are essential for inbound tourism, business connectivity and the economy as a whole. We will also maintain our support for Edinburgh Airport’s ambitions on US ‘pre-clearance’ which would allow passengers to clear immigration before boarding rather than in America. This could deliver significant economic benefits to the airport and to Scotland as a whole.
  • Work is ongoing across the Scottish Government to develop the aviation strategy. An online public consultation on developing the strategy concluded last year and we have published an independent analysis of the responses. The consultation covered growing international connectivity and airfreight; the transition to low and zero-emission aviation; domestic connectivity; and governance arrangements in the Highlands and Islands. The transition to low and zero-emission aviation is also relevant to preparation of our Climate Change Plan and Just Transition Plans, and we will ensure that this work is joined up. In particular, we are carefully examining incentivises for producing and using sustainable aviation fuel in Scotland, which can achieve significant lifecycle emissions savings compared to traditional jet fuel and also presents economic and employment opportunities for Scotland. 
  • We secured the continuation of the Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra air services for a further four years. This included the introduction of a residents fare for Tiree and Barra which will help to address the capacity constraint on the services that the communities told us, as part of our consultation on the specification for the services, was the biggest issue they faced.
  • Regarding our commitment to deliver six new major vessels on the ferry network, we will continue to produce, maintain and implement a long-term plan and investment programme for new ferries and development at ports to improve resilience, reliability, capacity, and accessibility, increase standardisation, and reduce emissions to meet the needs of island communities and give confidence on our ongoing commitment supported by investment of around £700 million during the current parliamentary period.
  • Delivery of the MV Glen Sannox is progressing and currently expected in March 2024, with MV Glen Rosa expected in May 2025. As with all new vessels introduced to the network, berthing trials and crew familiarisation will occur following delivery and ahead of introduction into service. Port improvements have been made at Troon to accommodate the MV Glen Sannox with consideration of works at Ardrossan ongoing.
  • We are accelerating replacement of major vessels in the ferry fleet and we have provided funding for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) to procure four new major vessels for Islay and the Little Minch routes. These vessels are now under construction. Port improvement works at Lochmaddy are nearing completion, and works continue at Uig with completion expected by late 2024. We are progressing port enabling works on the Islay routes. Progress on the first Islay vessel (MV Isle of Islay) is well underway and will be delivered to CMAL in October 2024. The second vessel (MV Loch Indaal) will be delivered to CMAL in February 2025. The new vessels set to serve on the Little Minch routes are also on track, with delivery to CMAL planned for 2025.
  • The movement of freight works on a commercial basis, and the role of Government is to put policies and strategies in place to facilitate modal shift to rail. We have set a further regulatory rail freight growth target for the period 2024 to 2029. This builds on the current growth target of 7.5% and challenges the rail industry to achieve 8.7% net growth over the five-year period to 2029, with an expectation that a higher figure of 10% may be achievable. Network Rail will also be consulting and working collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a longer-term rail freight growth strategy by 2027. We continue to support this growth by working proactively with rail freight customers and the rail industry to facilitate aspirations for new and upgraded rail freight facilities. Freight Facilities Grants remain available in Scotland to help offset the capital costs of these projects. 
  • In addition, we continue to look at benefits for freight in our rail decarbonisation projects recognising that this is an important enabler for growth as electrification will improve connectivity and create additional capacity for both passenger and freight services on the rail network.
  • Around seven million tonnes of wood are harvested from Scotland’s forests each year and transported to sawmills, board manufacturers and other processors, mostly on 44 tonne diesel lorries. In support of the forest industries decarbonisation goals, Scottish Forestry has awarded £452,000 grant support for a three-year trial, finishing in April 2024, to pilot use of state-of-the-art electric powered lorries to transport timber. The project aims to test the viability of electric trucks by evaluating achievable mileage vs battery consumption, durability, and total cost of ownership
  • Forest cover in Argyll (30%) is almost double the Scottish average (18%) and the area produces around 15% of Scotland’s timber. However, limited local processing capacity and complex geography means that much of this timber is transported to central Scotland and Ayrshire via a circuitous route of around 190 miles on roads that are not ideal for HGV traffic. In contrast, transport across the Firth of Clyde requires a sea journey of just 50 miles. Scottish Forestry continues to support the TimberLINK short sea shipping service which transports 100,000 tonnes of timber a year to avoid around 8,000 lorry journeys – or nearly 1 million lorry miles. Since inception, the service has avoided 42,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Will be reliable, efficient and high quality

  • We continue to support the delivery of publicly funded lifeline ferry services in cases where essential connectivity cannot be met by the normal operation of the market, through the management of Clyde & Hebrides and Northern Isles contracts.
  • We continue to support Scottish Rail Holdings in overseeing its publicly owned and operated subsidiaries - ScotRail Trains Ltd and Caledonian Sleeper Ltd - to provide high quality rail passenger services across Scotland's Railway and beyond.
  • We will update our Road Asset Management Plan which sets out sets out how Scotland's trunk road network is maintained strategically and efficiently in order to protect our assets and ensure maximum value for money from our road maintenance activities.

Will use beneficial innovation

  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS) aims to provide people with accurate multi-modal travel information, so they can decide the best way to undertake, and pay for, their journey. MaaS solutions contain the ability to provide journey planning, real-time travel information and mobile payment facilities in one digital application, empowering passengers to use alternative ways to travel, thus reducing use of private cars, and in turn carbon emissions. It also complements innovative future transport policy modes, such as connected autonomous and electric vehicles, low emission zones and 20-minute neighbourhoods. We have invested over £2 million through our MaaS Investment Fund which aimed to test the viability of the MaaS concept in Scotland. Five projects were awarded funding, covering a mix of rural and urban areas - the Highlands and Islands, Tayside and the South East of Scotland, and all will complete in the coming year. Over the next six months, work is underway to ensure that the results from these projects are analysed and evaluated, forming the evidence base necessary to determine any future policy and funding requirements such as whether successful elements can be rolled out to other areas of the country.
  • On 19 June 2023, we published our Vision for Scotland’s public electric vehicle (EV) charging network, setting out what an ideal public charging offer for cars and vans would look like across Scotland. Through our EV Infrastructure Fund we will enable £60 million of public and private investment to double the size of the public charging network to 6,000 charge points by 2026 and create the conditions for much greater commercial investment in public electric vehicle charging across Scotland. As part of the approach we are supporting Scotland’s local authorities to develop public electric vehicle charging strategies and infrastructure expansion plans. These plans are identifying local and regional charge point needs, the investment requirements, as well as the best approaches to delivering collaborative investments with commercial charge point operators. Scotland’s public EV charging network will gradually evolve over the coming years to be less focused on ChargePlace Scotland, while retaining the ability for drivers to seamlessly travel across a more diverse charging network with greater charging opportunities and even better levels of driver experience.
  • The £1.6 million Plugged-in Communities Community Transport Fund has continued to support a wide range of community transport organisations in 2023-24. The grant fund is enabling Community Transport organisations to purchase zero emission vehicles including wheelchair accessible vehicles and the associated charging infrastructure. There has been significant demand and this year’s fund has been fully allocated. Interested parties can still register their interest with our delivery partners at the Energy Savings Trust should future rounds of funding become available.