2 Defining and Describing the National Strategic Transport Network 2.2 The National Strategic Transport Network 2.3 Urban Networks and Strategic Nodes

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2 Defining and Describing the National Strategic Transport Network

2.1 Context

The first task for the STPR is to define and describe the national strategic transport network by considering the role of the transport network within Scotland.

It is generally agreed that the principal focus for most movements in Scotland, whether people or freight, is in, around and between our cities. Better Cities, New Challenges - A Review of Scotland’s Cities (2003) noted that "cities are our major points of economic activity and social interaction" and it goes on to state that "transport is central to the economic, social and environmental future of Scotland’s cities".

The economic draw of our cities extends their influence over a wide area; this is recognised through the consideration of the role of City-Regions in many policy documents, such as the National Planning Framework. Travel to work is particularly important. Such movements are focused along key radial routes, many of which coincide with routes linking our cities. These corridors, and the routes that cross them, are key parts of the national transport network.

The National Transport Strategy recognises the critical importance of providing efficient links between our cities, stating that "our strategic networks are particularly important for connecting our cities, connecting our towns with cities and bringing people and goods to those cities". The Strategy recognises, however, that strategic networks "are also critical for providing key routes into our wider regions, including the Highlands and Islands, to our regeneration areas, to England and to global markets to contribute to the accessibility of Scotland as a whole through road, rail and port connections. This means the strategic networks have a particular role in providing for the longer intercity and inter-region journeys."

2.2 The National Strategic Transport Network

2.2.1 Introduction

For the purposes of the STPR the National Strategic Transport Network has been defined as illustrated in Figure 2.1. The key elements of the network have been identified as:

  • Urban Networks – the nationally significant parts of the transport network within the four largest cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, aligning with the City Regions identified within the Cities Review and the National Planning Framework;
  • Strategic Nodes – due to their location, Perth and Inverness act as strategically significant nodes on the national transport network; and
  • Corridors – areas containing the transport network connecting the four largest cities and strategic nodes to each other, to the national boundaries, or to the peripheral and rural communities. Twenty land-based transport corridors have been identified and are listed in Table 2.1.

Further details on the urban networks, strategic nodes and corridors are contained in Chapter 4.

Table 2.1 – Land Based Corridors

Corridor Number

Corridor Description

Corridor length


Inverness to Wick / Thurso and Northern Isles



Inverness to Ullapool and Western Isles



Inverness to Fort William and Western Isles



Aberdeen to Inverness



Dundee to Aberdeen



Inverness to Perth



Glasgow to Oban / Fort William and Western Isles



Aberdeen to North East Scotland



Glasgow to Perth



Edinburgh to Stirling



Perth to Dundee



Edinburgh to Perth



Glasgow to Edinburgh



Edinburgh to Dundee



Glasgow to Stranraer and South West



Stranraer to North West England and beyond



Glasgow to Inverclyde and Islands



Glasgow to North West England and beyond



Edinburgh to North West England and beyond



Edinburgh to North East England and beyond


Figure 2.1: National Strategic Transport Network – Land Based, Sea and Air

Figure 2.1: National Strategic Transport Network – Land Based, Sea and Air

2.3 Urban Networks and Strategic Nodes

Within the urban networks and strategic nodes, the STPR will focus on those parts of the network that provide linkages to:

  • the corridors;
  • areas of economic activity;
  • regeneration areas that are of national priority; and
  • international gateways.

For the purposes of the STPR, areas of economic activity are defined as being locations that contain:

  • a concentration of employment in key strategic sectors of the economy; and
  • a concentration of large companies operating on a global scale and employing significant numbers of staff on site.

The areas of economic activity are illustrated in Figure 2.2. A full description of the definition and identification of areas of economic activity is also contained in Appendix A.

A set of characteristics has been developed that defines the primary function of the national strategic transport corridors. These are:

  • links between the four largest cities;
  • links to / from domestic airports / ports outside the cities and lifeline services;
  • international gateways and cross border links;
  • links to / from peripheral and rural communities;
  • links to / from areas of projected population change;
  • key freight routes;
  • links to / from key tourist areas;
  • links to / from regeneration areas of national priority; and
  • links to / from areas of economic activity of national significance.

Figure 2.2: Areas of Economic Activity

Figure 2.2: Areas of Economic Activity

2.3.1 Description of the Urban Networks Strategic Nodes and Corridors

In order to review the performance of the strategic transport network within the urban networks, strategic nodes and corridors, it is important to understand the demographics and the travel patterns within the respective area. Table 2.2 summarises the particular characteristics and context that have been used to describe the various urban networks, strategic nodes and corridors.

Table 2.2: Framework for Describing Urban Networks, Strategic Nodes and Corridors


Description of Information Presented

What are the key characteristics and projected trends of the city / city region / corridor the transport network is serving?

Demographics, economic structure, employment and inactivity rates, labour market catchment, growth patterns including land use patterns & key areas of economic activity, car ownership, income levels.

What is the current and projected shape, structure, and condition of the transport network that serves the urban network / corridor?

Existing transport infrastructure in the context of geography.

Condition of the strategic assets.

Interaction with local transport network.

What are the key travel patterns by mode share within the urban network / strategic node / corridor? How will these change over time?

Origins and destinations.

Modal split, including freight and public transport.

What are the key factors that influence travel patterns, mode choice and how can they be influenced?

Demographic changes, relative cost of travel, transport provision, delays and congestion, change in land use patterns.

2.3.2 Scope of STPR

While Figure 2.1 illustrates that the strategic network consists of land-based, sea and air services it is beyond the scope of the STPR to consider the performance of the air and sea services provided from ports and airports or to assess the performance of various freight hubs. The STPR therefore focuses on reviewing the performance of the land-based network including its ability to provide access to the relevant ports, harbours and airports.

Interventions considered within the STPR will therefore include:

  • strategic maintenance and safety measures;
  • intelligent transport systems, including demand management measures;
  • public transport improvements, including interchanges and ticketing;
  • appropriate policy and financial instruments (that are within the responsibility of Scottish Government);
  • environmental improvements;
  • multi-modal infrastructure; and
  • connections to ports and airports.

It will not include:

  • Advancements in vehicle technology or changes in vehicle regulation;
  • Planning led initiatives (e.g. changes to the statutory planning process);
  • Operation of air and ferry terminals and services;
  • Changes to the framework within which transport delivery and operation takes place; or
  • Routine maintenance measures.