Rail 2014 Consultation Analysis
1.1 Transport Scotland commissioned MVA Consultancy to undertake an analysis of responses to the 'Rail 2014' public consultation. The year 2014 is a milestone year as the next ScotRail franchise is due to begin and the funding arrangements for Network Rail are renewed. The consultation was an opportunity to inform the Scottish Ministers so that appropriate contracts can be established. The consultation has been 'high profile' given the wide range of issues covered and the diverse range of views expressed.
1.2 The completed consultation will inform the Scottish Ministers in determining the way forward for delivering rail passenger services in Scotland. The consultation itself has provided an opportunity for stakeholder organisations and the public to play a role in shaping the future of Scotland's railways.
1.3 This report details the themes which have emerged throughout the analysis process. Reporting has been structured around the consultation topics and then each specific consultation question, documenting response numbers, key themes and any differences between organisational responses or those from members of the public. Direct quotations have been included where appropriate to illustrate context and sentiment.
1.4 As part of the consultation exercise, Transport Scotland organised events across the country to engage with a broad range of stakeholders and to raise the profile and awareness of the consultation document.
1.5 In total, 23 stakeholder events took place across Scotland with around 160 organisations attending these meetings.
1.6 Transport Scotland also held 16 station events where they engaged directly with the public including passengers, representative organisations, local councillors and pressure groups.
1.7 Whilst MVA were not involved in any stakeholder events, Transport Scotland have advised that the principal matters raised at these included the following:
- quality of rolling stock for longer-distance journeys - linked to cross-border and sleeper concerns
- location of stations (both reacting to the closure issue and suggesting new stations)
- integration with other transport modes
- desire for through trains - both internal and cross-border
- provision of relevant passenger information
- the need for less fragmentation and more integration across the rail industry
1.8 It should be noted that each of these key matters, and concerns, expressed at Transport Scotland events were duplicated in the submitted consultation responses to the Rail 2014 document.
1.9 The consultation has attracted considerable media interest since its launch. Media coverage has not only been provided by Transport Scotland through press releases and regular updates on the Transport Scotland twitter site, but also through various media organisations and interest groups. The nature of media coverage varied between simple awareness-raising of the exercise to opinionated analysis. Some of the latter reflected initial misunderstandings of the purpose of the consultation document, which was intended to provide options and stimulate debate. TV, print and social media have provided coverage and opinion on various elements of the consultation throughout the process.
1.10 Follow-up reporting and opinion has tended to focus upon a small number of topics. Topics highlighted by the media included:
- potential closures of stations
- termination of cross border services at Edinburgh
- banning the consumption of alcohol on services
- the future of the highland and lowland Caledonian sleeper services
1.11 Consequently, the above topics generated a high level of response.