2 - Transport policy and structural developments
Scottish Transport Policy
2.1 Transport is key to the Scottish Government's Purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth and is an essential part of our Government Economic Strategy (GES). The GES identifies the six strategic priorities which will accelerate recovery, drive sustainable economic growth and develop a more resilient and adaptable economy. Transport infrastructure - roads, rail, airports and ports - and the people and businesses that use these assets - are all important components of Scotland's economy.
Government Economic Strategy – Transport Priorities
- Focus investment on making connections across, within and to/ from Scotland better, improving reliability and journey times, seeking to maximise the opportunities for employment, business, leisure and tourism
- Invest in maintaining our existing transport infrastructure to ensure it remains safe and reliable, so safeguarding current connectivity
- Facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy by providing integrated and cost-effective public transport and better connecting people, places and work
- Safeguard transport links to remote and rural communities and support economic growth in remote communities such as the Western Isles through encouraging tourism by rolling out the application of the Road Equivalent Tariff
- Build the Forth Replacement Crossing, so providing continuation of a key linkage for the whole of Scotland
- Take forward key rail projects to provide fast and efficient transport to boost productivity, facilitate connectivity and promote our transition to a low carbon economy
- Ensure Scotland is well connected with the rest of the world by working closely with the air, rail and sea transport industries to actively promote new international routes, services and sustainable infrastructure
2.2 The transport network needs to serve a country of 79,000 square kilometres and a population of just over 5 million. It needs to cover both the busy urban areas and the more sparsely populated rural areas and islands, for which transport is often described as a lifeline service. Rail passenger services are an integral part of public transport provision in Scotland.
2.3 The National Transport Strategy (NTS) sets out the overarching transport policy for Scotland, and provides a structure against which questions of investment, priorities and polices can be judged. The NTS is supported by four specific action plans and reviews including Scotland's Railways, which was published in 2006 and sets out a vision for the rail network over 20 years to 2026.
2.4 The aim of Scotland's Railways is to:
- offer world class train services which connect our city regions and major towns, providing journey times and quality of service that are competitive with car and air
- provide access to inter-urban services through high quality interchange stations that link with feeder rail services from intermediate stations and offer easy transfer from car, bus, tram, subway, ferry, cycle and walking
- make commuter train services attractive to passengers by ensuring that the journey to work is a high quality, reliable travel option and by ensuring that our rolling stock choices take account of environmental considerations, including air quality and noise emissions
- support heavily loaded freight trains carrying an increasingly wide range of products with effective interchange to road and sea
- achieve a rail industry that delivers efficiently and effectively to support our aims and vision
2.5 Following on from the National Transport Strategy the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) defines the strategic investments in Scotland's national transport network from 2012. The STPR includes a range of interventions for the rail network including a major electrification programme, reconfiguration of the national rail timetable, and strategic rail improvements and enhancements. The three main rail priorities identified are:
- Edinburgh to Glasgow Rail Improvements Programme (EGIP)
- Highland Mainline Improvements between Perth and Inverness
- Aberdeen to Inverness Rail Improvements
2.6 These projects, and others already completed, enable the provision of improved passenger services and the movement of freight.
2.7 The Scottish Government's Infrastructure Investment Programme (IIP), which is currently being reviewed, covers all our expenditure on infrastructure setting out a pipeline of projects for delivery over the medium to long-term. The Transport Sector Plan within the IIP outlines a set of transport projects which is based on the recommendations from the STPR and focuses on the mechanisms to deliver funding for such projects.
2.8 In contrast to passenger services, freight services are not specified by Government, with the choice of transport mode being a commercial decision for the freight operator and customer. We are, however, looking to encourage an increase in rail use as rail produces significantly less emissions per tonne than road.
2.9 In 2009, Transport Scotland consulted with key stakeholders on its vision for rail freight in Scotland,
"where the infrastructure and the co-operation between Government, wider industry and customers is conducive to an expansion of rail freight movements, with a focus on modal shift away from less sustainable transport".
2.10 Responses received from industry partners, end users, local authorities and others expressed agreement with our aims and a real desire to work in partnership to overcome obstacles to more rail use. This does, however, highlight the ever increasing need to ensure a balance is struck between freight and passenger services on our mixed-use rail network, particularly as there is only a finite amount of capacity to enable both freight and rail passenger services to operate.
2.11 We can set the strategic direction for rail in Scotland and specify infrastructure investment and passenger services. The UK Parliament and the UK Government, however, retain responsibility for rail issues including regulation, safety, standards and negotiating European developments.
2.12 Recent rail policy developments have been dominated by the Rail Value for Money (RVfM) study carried out by Sir Roy McNulty. The RVfM was jointly commissioned by the UK Secretary of State for Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation. It specifically covers the statutory functions of the Secretary of State, which relate primarily to rail services in England and Wales, but also include cross-border services and safety and standards across the whole of the GB rail network. Following the publication of this report the Department for Transport (DfT) is considering its options for rail reform in England and Wales in advance of publishing a statement on rail later in 2011.
2.13 The DfT lets and manages franchises for rail passenger services across England and Wales, including the cross-border services which operate in Scotland (see Section 8). The DfT has recently reformed its rail franchising process and will be inviting companies to bid for nine contracts between now and 2014.
2.14 The Scottish Ministers are responsible for the internal Scottish rail services. The planning and specification of the future ScotRail contract for rail passenger services, as well as any infrastructure investments, will be driven by our policies and priorities and the prevailing condition of the Scottish economy. This consultation is an integral part of that consideration.
2.15 Network Rail has also recently undertaken an internal restructuring. This moved responsibility for its Scottish operations to a Route Managing Director based in Scotland. This decentralisation seeks to give more power, responsibility and accountability to Scotland, covering the following areas:
- delivery of safety policy
- all customer service matters
- asset management outputs and spend
- planning and delivering maintenance
- delivery of some renewals and enhancements
2.16 We welcome the new decentralised structure which should help to align Network Rail more closely to the needs of its customers in Scotland and assist with our ambition for greater operational integration of activities between Network Rail and the rail passenger service operators.
2.17 In our view the need for greater integration of activities is self-evident: to align the industry so that it focuses on delivering customer-outcomes at a lower subsidy cost.
2.18 We therefore need the relationship between Network Rail and the rail passenger service operators to be aligned with improvements to planning, project management, safety, performance and greater cost efficiencies.
2.19 These improvements can be delivered better by the industry acting in a co-ordinated, integrated manner. Accordingly, we are considering mechanisms that we can take forward through the High Level Output Specification and the ScotRail franchise that will ensure the alignment of operational structures, interfaces and incentives, so that the industry is integrated, more properly focussed and able to achieve the improvements sought. This consultation will be a significant contribution to inform those mechanisms.
2.20 We note that the railway industry in Scotland has set out, in its Initial Industry Plan (IIP) 2011, its proposals to deliver a more efficient and better value railway from 2014. The IIP examines choices and options for us to consider in specifying the future outputs of the railway and the required level of funding support.
2.21 We will be reviewing the plan in the coming months and, together with responses to this consultation, it will feed into the development of our High Level Output Specification for Network Rail for the period 2014-19 and for the contracting of future rail passenger services.
Rail passenger views
2.22 Our ambitions are for a passenger-centric, cost-efficient, and better integrated railway. Passenger requirements are central to our policy considerations, and accordingly we are reviewing closely research carried out by Passenger Focus, including its National Passenger Survey.
2.23 Passenger Focus carried out research into the priorities for passengers across Great Britain and concluded that the top priorities for Scottish respondents mirrored those across Great Britain. The priorities were:
- value for money of tickets
- reliability and punctuality of trains
- frequency of services
- ability to obtain a seat
- availability and accurate information, particularly when trains are delayed
2.24 Our challenge will be to ensure that these key priorities can be balanced with encouraging more people to use the rail network, and encouraging more freight to be carried by rail, whilst making the rail network more cost efficient.