DELIVERY AGAINST OUR AIMS
ENSURE THAT SCOTLAND’S RAIL AND TRUNK ROAD SYSTEMS ARE MANAGED EFFICIENTLY, ECONOMICALLY AND EFFECTIVELY
Scotland’s motorway and trunk road network covers 3,405 kilometres3. It includes 1,900 bridges and 3,700 other structures. The trunk road network is currently valued at £14.1 billion. It belongs to Scottish Ministers and is included in the Agency’s balance sheet.
Although the trunk road network comprises only 6.2% of Scotland’s total road mileage, it carries 37% of all traffic and 63% of heavy goods vehicle traffic, emphasising its strategic importance to Scotland’s economy.
The rail network in Scotland comprises 2,735 kilometres of railway – of which 23% is electrified – and 346 stations. Our role is to develop and improve this network as rail is ideally suited to providing fast long-distance passenger services between major urban centres, providing high quality commuter services and to transporting high-volume and long distance freight. Although the Agency provides funding for the development of the rail network, the economic ownership of these assets rests with Network Rail. These assets are not therefore included on our balance sheet.
Scotland’s railway carried over 81 million passengers last year, the highest level since the 1960s. In addition, over 14 million tonnes of freight were transported in 2005/06 (the most recent year for which figures are available). Network Rail owns and operate the rail infrastructure while First ScotRail provides most passenger services under its franchise. Cross-border services, apart from the ScotRail sleeper trains and some internal links, are operated under Department for Transport franchises.
Transport Scotland is responsible for ensuring that these networks are put to best use in moving people and goods around the country with minimal delay and with the least possible impact on the environment. We are committed to ensuring that we respond to climate change and during 2007/08 we carried out an internal review of our activities in this area. This found that we were already undertaking a significant range of work across our policy, operational and corporate activities. Recognising the need to maintain momentum on this issue, the Transport Scotland Board asked the Chief Executive to oversee personally the delivery of a three-year action plan further to embed climate change adaptation and mitigation activities into the work of the Agency. This preparatory work will be fully reflected in all areas of our activity over the next Corporate Plan period to help us systematically manage and reduce our carbon footprint.
CASE STUDY: A83 REST AND BE THANKFUL LANDSLIP
Dealing with major incidents on the trunk road network efficiently and effectively is a key part of our work. A major landslip on 28 October 2007 closed the A83 in Argyll. This deposited a large amount of material on the road. While the road blockage was quickly cleared removing the unstable material above the road was a much more challenging operation and involved helicopter lifts and specialist mountaineering staff. The road was reopened on 14 November 2007. Investigations are now under way to identify a permanent solution at this complicated and geotechnically challenging location. During the road closure Transport Scotland and ScotlandTranServ kept the public informed of progress on measures to reopen the road and remove the long diversion. The updates were actively managed through one source to ensure that accurate information was provided and to minimise misinformation. This was commended by a wide range of stakeholders.
Transport Scotland maintains the trunk road network mainly through its four trunk road operating companies (OCs). BEAR (Scotland) manages the North East and South East Units, Amey Infrastructure Services the South West Unit and Scotland TranServ the North West Unit. Their work is overseen and directed by Transport Scotland staff, supported by the Performance Audit Group (PAG) which monitors and reports on how the OCs are performing. PAG’s annual report, produced in September 2007, confirmed that all OCs were generally performing well and that the two new contracts for the North East and South East Units which began in April 2007, have bedded in well. Transport Scotland staff are now working closely with the OCs exploring how they might reduce their carbon footprint.
Our road network is essential for individuals and businesses in Scotland. Enhanced technology is improving the efficiency of the network for users through our state-of-the-art Intelligent Transport System (ITS). We began work on enhancing the Traffic Scotland system, which will greatly improve our ability to monitor road conditions and provide accurate, up-to-date information to travellers, and we have put in place a new interim control centre at Atlantic Quay in Glasgow.
We expanded the Trunk Road Incident Support Service (TRISS) to cover the east of Scotland. TRISS ensures that disruption caused by unplanned incidents on our network is cleared away as quickly as possible. We continued to work with various stakeholders to find solutions to challenges caused by severe weather: our enhanced Met Office service in the control centre, together with the further deployment of weather cameras, assisted in our approach.
Transport Scotland has developed a world class road maintenance regime that delivers a high level of service to users and maintains the asset value of the trunk road network. We have implemented new and improved contracts for their maintenance which should lead to efficiency savings of £19 million over the next five years.
CASE STUDY: ROAD ASSET MANAGEMENT PLAN
In November 2007 we published our first Road Asset Management Plan (RAMP). We carried out a review of our current practices, compared them against industry best practice, and identified where and how we could do things better. The three-year RAMP sets out how we will manage the trunk road network and the service this will deliver. It is key to our effective delivery of road maintenance. We will regularly review and update it to reflect changes and improvements in our management practices.
Scottish Ministers have funded record levels of investment in the railways through Transport Scotland including the ScotRail Franchise (£294 million in 2007/08), funding of Network Rail in Scotland (£365 million), and delivery of our major public transport projects (£251 million).
Over the year, we continued to engage effectively with Network Rail and the Office of the Rail Regulator, which has resulted in the first fixed price agreement with Network Rail for the delivery of a rail project, the Airdrie to Bathgate Rail Link Project, providing best value and certainty that the cost will be less than the previous £375 million estimate.
Network Rail funding is fixed for five-year periods. With the devolution of rail powers to Scottish Ministers in 2006, the regulatory review for 2009 /14 is the first time that the Scottish Government has provided statutory input to this process. Our aim is to ensure that the network delivers the outputs which will best support Scottish Ministers’ priorities. During 2007/08 we continued the work to refine the network outputs we can achieve for the public funding that will be available.
Transport Scotland continues to manage the ScotRail franchise, which is the means by which Scottish Ministers contract for the delivery of passenger rail services on the ScotRail network. This is one of the largest4 rail franchises in Great Britain, providing over 2000 train services every weekday to 346 stations across the Scottish network. Over the year passenger numbers continued to increase to 81.3 million, an increase of 5.17% against a target of 2%. The performance of these train services also continued to improve, the Public Performance Measure (PPM) standing at 90.5% at the end of the year.
The Service Quality Incentive Regime (SQUIRE) is designed to ensure that the rail franchisee maintains specific levels of service both at station and on trains throughout the entire Scottish Rail network. Over the year our team of inspectors carried out 4420 station inspections, 2600 train inspections and almost 900 audits on ticket inspections along with additional inspections on areas such as the management of faults recording and the provision of effective CCTV both at the control centres and on trains. During the year the entire SQUIRE system was fully automated, significantly improving efficiency and effectiveness. The new system improved what was already considered among the best performance monitoring regimes within the GB rail network.
Scotland’s trunk road network is already one of the safest in the world and we are constantly seeking to improve that record. Our Strategic Road Safety Plan, published in 2007, seeks to develop and implement a road safety strategy through a range of initiatives and projects, directed at achieving Scottish Ministers’ 2010 casualty reduction targets. We play a central role on the steering group for the Scottish Government’s ‘Expert Panel’ on road safety and our Strategic Trunk Road Safety Unit develops targeted road safety strategies. The safety performance of the trunk road network is assessed annually by screening all locations where three or more injury accidents have occurred in a three-year period. This helps to identify accident patterns at specific locations on the network which might benefit from localised engineering improvements. We have also implemented a proactive casualty reduction strategy by delivering safety improvements at potential accident locations identified through an assessment of road layout.
CASE STUDY: STRATEGIC ROAD SAFETY PLAN
Last year we delivered Transport Scotland’s first Strategic Road Safety Plan. The Plan takes forward our work not only in addressing historic accident sites but also in identifying measures to tackle potential accident locations. The Safety Plan sets out an Action Plan that gives Transport Scotland and the trunk road operating companies an evidence-led strategy that will prioritise initiatives where they are most needed. This is a major step forward in preventing the pain and suffering inflicted on our communities as a result of road accidents. Applying Transport Scotland’s knowledge and best practice will be a vital component of Scotland’s new 10-year road safety strategy.
In the course of the year Transport Scotland produced an initial two year review of the UK’s longest distance average speed camera system on the A77. This review indicated very significant reductions in casualty numbers.
There are 1,900 bridges and 3,700 other structures on the Scottish motorway and trunk road network. In order to ensure their continued safe use and that of the public we continued with our programme of cyclic inspections in line with UK standards where each bridge and structure is subjected to a general inspection every two years and a much more detailed ‘close-up’ principal inspection every six years. This significant annual task for Transport Scotland and its operating companies ensures that defects and safety related issues are addressed before they cause significant cost or put safety at risk.
Over the year, we have continued with our bridge-strengthening and replacement programme by commencing the A82 Achnambeithach Bridge Replacement, working towards the UK national target of assessing and strengthening of road bridges for 40 Tonne HGVs by 2010/11.
CASE STUDY: A737 IMPROVEMENT SCHEME
Work has recently been completed on a new £1.3 million roundabout at Roadhead on the A737 trunk road. The work involved replacing a substandard junction layout with a new roundabout to improve road safety and traffic flow. The A737 is a key strategic route linking the M8 with North Ayrshire and the traffic flow on the section north of Lochwinnoch is one of the highest for a single carriageway trunk road, with over 22,000 vehicles a day passing the junction. As part of further improvement works on the route, two new roundabouts aimed at improving road safety are planned on the Beith Bypass section.
ESTABLISH AND RUN THE NATIONAL CONCESSIONARY TRAVEL SCHEMES
This aspect of our work delivers important social and user benefits the length and breadth of the country. Our Scotland-wide free bus travel for older and disabled people continues to demonstrate its success and high level of customer satisfaction with passenger journeys increasing over the year from 156 million to 160.2 million and the number of cardholders increasing to 1.1 million people, over 90% of those eligible.
There remains potential for growth in the subsidised scheme for young people which was effectively promoted during the year with a high-profile media campaign which helped increase the number of cards issued from 25,941 to 46,804 during 2007/08.
The use of electronic Smartcards, rather than using the card as ‘show and go’, across all of Scotland has progressed more slowly than planned. Just over 3.5 million of the 160.2 million journeys were made using Smartcard equipment. Producing a leading-edge solution to allow customers to travel seamlessly across Scotland without the need for cash has been a significant technical challenge for our suppliers and the delivery of smart-enabled ticketing machines for all buses was therefore delayed. Over the year we successfully resolved many of these difficulties and 750 out of 7,000 buses were installed with smart machines by 31 March 20085. We now plan to have most buses equipped with Smartcard systems during 2008/09.
We also reviewed and updated our internal control systems for these schemes. In developing more robust audit and anti-fraud measures good progress was made with the enhanced fraud strategy which will be implemented during the financial year 2008/09.
DELIVER THE SCOTTISH MINISTERS’ COMMITTED PROGRAMME OF ENHANCEMENTS TO SCOTLAND’S RAIL AND TRUNK ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
Transport Scotland is responsible for delivering planned and future major improvements to the trunk road and rail networks, to ensure they meet today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. Latest forecasts suggest that without any policy intervention total road traffic in Scotland will grow by around 22% between 2005 and 2015. Demand for rail has also been growing in recent years and in 2007/08 reached the highest level since 1960 with over 81.3 million passengers on First ScotRail services. Demand for both passenger and rail freight services is forecast to increase by at least a third over the next 20 years. These are the challenges that future transport infrastructure improvements must meet.
The trunk road network is being developed to meet these challenges through a series of major projects in various stages of development on the M8, M80, M74 and A90 at Aberdeen. The M8 and M80 schemes, when implemented, will see the completion of the central Scotland motorway network linking Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling. A series of smaller projects on the rural trunk road network is also being planned and implemented including overtaking schemes to increase journey time reliability and safety across the network, and bypasses such as that being developed for Crianlarich on the A82.
The rail network is being developed through a programme of major rail projects, together with a portfolio of smaller improvements which make a real difference to the quality of a Scottish rail journey. Projects range from the development of a new rail line for the Borders to increasing car parking capacity at stations and providing a new footbridge with lifts at Lockerbie Station.
The 2007/08 programme of major improvements consisted of six rail major projects and seven road major projects. Each project has a spend of £50 million or more and most have planned completion dates beyond the 2007/08 financial year.
In addition there are around 40 improvement schemes under active development, the highest number for decades, as well as £10-£20 million per annum investment in various small rail schemes such as customer information improvements, train refurbishment and safety enhancements.
Trunk road projects under construction include three schemes which will allow more overtaking opportunities on the A75, replacement of the last remaining single track section on the Scottish trunk road network at Arisaig on the A830 (pictured left), overtaking schemes on the ferry routes such as the A76 at Glenairlie and the A77 north of Cairnryan, as well as realignment/improvement of substandard sections of the A7 south of Langholm and the A9 at Helmsdale.
MAJOR ROAD PROJECTS
Trunk road projects are directly managed by Transport Scotland staff who lead the work of designers, contractors and other third parties to ensure projects are delivered on time and to budget with the necessary statutory permissions in place.
The new Upper Forth Crossing at Kincardine is nearing completion and is on target to open in November 2008, the ‘push-launch’ concrete deck having reached the south shore 40 days ahead of schedule. The project will relieve congestion, improve traffic flow and assist a future maintenance programme for the existing bridge.
In December 2007 the Scottish Government confirmed its intention to build a multi-modal, cable stay bridge to the west of the existing Forth Road Bridge. A number of key milestones have already been achieved since December’s announcement:
- January 2008 – consultants appointed as the project management team
- February 2008 – land searches undertaken and environmental studies started
- March 2008 – traffic surveys, ground investigations and aerial surveys started
The next phase of the project will include developing the road connections and bridge design; establishing procurement, financing and legislative options; and consulting with key stakeholders including landowners, local community groups and statutory bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Architecture and Design Scotland.
Public Local Inquiries have been scheduled for the M8 extension between Baillieston and Newhouse, which will complete the continuous motorway link between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the A90 Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route which will tackle congestion and improve accessibility in the area.
The preferred bidder for the M80 Stepps to Haggs improvements has been announced and works are planned to commence later in the year. This scheme will bring benefits to drivers by improving road safety while alleviating congestion and delays, particularly during peak hours, as well as improving journey times. The road will also provide local communities with better accessibility and environmental benefits.
CASE STUDY: M74 COMPLETION
The £445 million contract to build the ‘missing link’ between the end of the existing M74 at Fullarton Road Junction and the M8 south of the Kingston Bridge commenced in May 2008. Getting the project to this stage required much work during 2007/08 as the project’s complexity includes several crossings of railway lines, dealing with contaminated land, and construction in a constrained urban environment. Completion is programmed for 2011. This project will improve access to Glasgow Airport, provide relief to the congestion on the M8 in Glasgow and support local development potential, including new jobs attracted to the area as part of a wider regeneration project. It will also improve the air quality in the Glasgow City Centre Air Quality Management area and will be a vital link in assisting the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
CASE STUDY: A9 BALLINLUIG JUNCTION IMPROVEMENT
This major trunk road improvement scheme (pictured above) got under way in July 2007. The improvement provided a new flyover junction south of Ballinluig. Two slip roads connect the A9 to the A827 (to Aberfeldy) removing the need to turn right across oncoming traffic. The new junction had to be constructed in a tight location between the existing road, railway and river and was designed to fit sympathetically with the local landscape and environment. In time features like the sustainable drainage will enhance the local landscape and biodiversity, leaving a positive legacy. Opened in May 2008, on budget and two months ahead of schedule, the new junction brings a much needed safety benefit to road users.
CASE STUDY: A68 DALKEITH NORTHERN BYPASS PROJECT
This project (pictured below) involves building five kilometres of high quality single carriageway which will allow travellers to bypass Dalkeith between Fordal Mains and the Edinburgh City Bypass. Work began in August 2006 and is progressing on time with an expected completion date of September 2008. The need for a bypass has been long recognised and it will bring significant benefits to the residents of Dalkeith by reducing accidents, congestion, noise and air pollution associated with the heavily used current route through the town centre.
MAJOR RAIL PROJECTS
The portfolio of major rail projects is delivered by our rail industry partners and historically has been promoted by a variety of local government partnerships, with Transport Scotland having differing types of engagement with each. Over the past year we have concentrated on reviewing these arrangements in order to ensure best value for money and to review the effectiveness of how these projects are delivered. The promotion and funding of these projects has now been consolidated within Transport Scotland – at the heart of government.
We have completed detailed project reviews where we have looked at the contractual arrangements, the schedules, and the cost plans for the Borders Rail Link and the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL). We have also taken over the legal powers to implement both projects. Preparatory work on GARL began in autumn 2007, with this project now being combined with Paisley Corridor resignalling to eliminate costly and disruptive engineering works in coming years.
The Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine (SAK) project, the largest rail project of its kind undertaken in Scotland in recent years, was substantially completed during 2007/08. A new station was built in Alloa to allow direct hourly passenger services between Alloa, Stirling and Glasgow Queen Street and onward services from Stirling to Edinburgh. The line will provide a more efficient freight route to carry coal from the West of Scotland to Longannet Power Station and potentially provide freight services to other customers along the line. A number of unforeseen factors contributed to this project running over time and budget including land access issues and ground stabilisation due to the presence of old mine workings. In summer 2007 Transport Scotland took over direct control of the project to prevent further cost increases or delays6. We will ensure that the lessons learned from SAK, one of our first significant rail infrastructure projects, are incorporated into the other major rail projects which will follow.
Work has progressed well on the Airdrie to Bathgate project, with advanced works for the redoubling of the existing Bathgate Branch starting in early 2007 and due to be completed in December 2008.
As agreed by Parliament, we will continue to provide financial support to a maximum of £500 million towards the capital costs of the Edinburgh Tram project. Responsibility for delivery of this project has been passed to City of Edinburgh Council.
CASE STUDY: EDINBURGH WAVERLEY STATION
The project to improve capacity at Edinburgh Waverley Station was successfully completed in November 2007, on time and under the £150 million budget. The project provides four extra train paths per hour in each direction, four new platforms, escalators and lifts within Waverley Station and a new platform at Haymarket Station. As part of the project, electrification equipment required for the Airdrie to Bathgate project was also installed at the station over the Christmas and New Year period. Bringing these works forward avoided future disruption to passengers and made best use of the experienced team already on site. The project was funded by Transport Scotland and delivered in partnership with station owner Network Rail. As a result of substantial design changes following stakeholder consultation, the planned redevelopment of Waverley steps will now be completed in 2010/11.
HELP TO BUILD SCOTLAND’S NATIONAL TRANSPORT STRATEGY BY RECOMMENDING AND ADVISING ON INVESTMENT PRIORITIES FOR TOMORROW’S RAIL AND TRUNK ROAD NETWORKS
Transport Scotland plays a key role in helping the Scottish Government to deliver its purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth. Our focus is on making journey times better and more reliable, improving strategic transport connections, encouraging a shift from lorries and private cars, and on improving safety, while at the same time promoting innovation and reducing emissions. All of this added together will help us to develop transport infrastructure and services in Scotland of which we can be proud.
In advising Ministers on investment priorities for tomorrow’s rail and trunk road networks within the framework of the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG), we assess proposed transport options against five criteria:
- Environmental impact
- Transport integration
STAG is a policy and evidence based method which ensures all options are assessed in an informed, consistent manner against the five appraisal criteria. A STAG report presents relevant information to decision makers, allowing them to make informed choices. Completion of an appraisal using STAG provides a strategic business case for taking forward options and is a requirement where funding, approval and support is sought from Government. It also ensures that the end result can be audited, making the process transparent and publicly accountable. Transport Scotland has recently updated and republished STAG following comprehensive consultation.
During the year, we have continued to work on the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR). The STPR aims to identify a prioritised package of transport measures across various modes of transport for delivery between 2012 and 2022 that will meet the Government’s Transport priorities set out at the front of this Annual Report.
In the summer of 2007 we carried out a major study, as part of STPR, examining potential improvements to rail services between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Since then we have been developing the resulting Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvements Programme along with our industry colleagues, Network Rail and First ScotRail. Lead roles have been designated and joint working groups have been put in place.
This programme will provide an upgrade to central Scotland’s transport links through the delivery of improved rail connections between Edinburgh and Glasgow. It will provide more and faster services, running more frequently and with increased capacity.
In the short term there will be more and faster trains between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh via Shotts and a new interchange with the Edinburgh tram network to serve Edinburgh Airport. In the longer term services will be faster, more frequent and more reliable. City centre to city centre journey times will be brought down from 50 minutes to close to 35 minutes by 2016, there will be trains every 10 minutes on the route via Falkirk, and routes will be electrified helping to reduce transport emissions.
CASE STUDY: HIGH LEVEL OUTPUT SPECIFICATION (HLOS)
Devolution requires Scottish Ministers to set out their requirements for the rail network to allow the Office of Rail Regulation to set Network Rail’s targets and income. In July 2007 Ministers published their £3.6 billion specification to deliver major rail projects such as Airdrie to Bathgate and the Glasgow Airport Rail Link and to improve journey times, increase capacity and meet rising demand on the railways between 2009 and 2014. The HLOS provides a platform for the rail industry to secure best value for assisting sustainable economic growth in Scotland.
STRIVE TOWARDS EXCELLENCE BY BUILDING OUR WORKING PRINCIPLES INTO EVERYTHING WE DELIVER, AND INTO HOW WE WORK AS AN ORGANISATION
In delivering our responsibilities, Transport Scotland operates on the basis of five working principles, which are to:
- Strive to become a centre of excellence in transport delivery, both nationally and internationally
- Promote transport integration
- Maintain a clear outward focus on the needs of transport users
- Work in partnership with other transport providers and wider government in our planning and delivery
- Make the most efficient use of public resources and equip our staff to do the best possible job
CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
We recognise the challenges ahead in the construction sector and the shortages in skills in civil engineering. In 2007 we introduced a Graduate Training Scheme which is accredited by the Institute of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Highways and Transport. This is a four-year scheme for prospective engineers and transport planners who follow a structured training programme to Chartership supported by our Chief Professional Officer, mentors, delegated engineers, line managers and Human Resources.
Transport Scotland’s Rail Delivery Directorate has established the ‘Introduction to Rail Knowledge Training Course’ in conjunction with the Institution of Railway Operators (IRO). The three-day course is designed to enhance understanding of the railway environment and provide an overview of railway operational, technical and commercial disciplines. All staff with railway responsibilities have undertaken this course over the last year and it is now in place as part of new employees, induction to Rail Delivery. Feedback on this course has been extremely positive and some industry partners have placed their own staff on this course.
Amongst other events promoted by Transport Scotland was a national conference on passive safety7 to encourage the greater provision of safer roadside features. Transport Scotland’s lead in the field of passive safety was recognised in the course of the year by the award of the first UK wide Surveyor/Traffic Engineering and Control/EuroRAP Passive Safety award.
Through our own Traffic Scotland website www.trafficscotland.org and through the funding of Traveline Scotland www.travelinescotland.com and Transport Direct www.transportdirect.info we have continued to make good progress in improving and updating travel information services to the public and businesses on both traffic flow and public transport services. During 2007/08 we invested £8 million in the Traffic Scotland system. This service not only benefits end-users directly, but is also a vital management tool for ourselves, local authorities and other transport providers.
In December 2007 we launched our enhanced Traffic Customer Care Line (0800 028 1414). This provides drivers with information on road conditions and allows them to report problems on the national roads network. It is integrated with Traveline Scotland journey planning service which means it can ‘hand over’ road users to a public transport option when they are calling about roadworks, congestion, planned events etc., thus providing the traveller with a one-stop-shop approach to car and public transport journey planning information.
As these services evolve and users are better able to make informed travel choices, they will encourage travellers and hauliers, where appropriate, to think about alternatives to private, road based transport which will support the effective and efficient transport network which is so vital to Scotland’s future economic growth.
The planned consultation on an integrated ticketing strategy for Scotland was delayed and has begun during the financial year 2008/09. Following this consultation a strategy will be developed and presented for Ministerial approval.
OUTWARD FOCUS/CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY
In 2007 we commissioned our first Road User Survey to improve our understanding of the requirements of road users on the general safety and condition of the trunk road network. Active engagement with road users and other interested parties helps us understand current levels of satisfaction and the level of service road users expect. Users were asked to rate their degree of satisfaction and the importance they place on a whole range of service standards and their perception of current performance against those standards. The results allow us to focus on priority areas for improvement and provides the starting point for the development of a concise and focused annual road user survey. One of the key findings is that 52% of respondents are satisfied with the surface condition of trunk roads with the top three features of trunk roads that make road users feel unsafe being potholes (59%), uneven road surfaces (39%) and slippery roads caused by ice/snow (36%).
PARTNERSHIPS IN PLANNING AND DELIVERY
We continue to work closely with a wide range of stakeholders within the transport industry and across the public and private sectors. We regularly consult on the impact our policies and projects are likely to have and we actively seek external input in shaping them. For example, during 2007/08 we hosted a series of public exhibitions on our plans for the Forth Replacement Crossing, we established STPR reference groups, and had very constructive engagement with our key rail industry partners, Network Rail and First ScotRail, in developing our plans for improving Edinburgh-Glasgow rail connections.
The accessibility of the rail network to disabled passengers is reserved for the Westminster government, but Transport Scotland officials work closely with the Department for Transport (DfT) to bring accessibility improvements to the Scottish rail network. In 2006 the DfT launched the Access for All programme to invest £370 million in Britain’s railway stations over a 10-year period to remove barriers to mobility impaired travellers. The Scottish proportion of this fund is £39 million, and Transport Scotland recommends which stations will receive investment. Eight stations were selected in Phase 1 to receive around £12 million of improvements such as bridges, lifts and ramps as appropriate. Construction is already under way at five of these stations and is due for completion in summer 2008.
In addition to the main Access for All Fund there is also a small schemes fund from which just over £1.2 million of smaller-scale improvements have been made in over 25 stations throughout Scotland in 2007/08. These include tactile maps and audible navigation aids for blind and partially sighted travellers, automatic doors, variable height counters, improved lighting and investment in disabled persons on-line journey planners.
We have established both the Scottish Rail Accessibility Forum and the Roads for All Forum in order to work with disability organisations and make sure that we take accessibility issues fully into account. We also work with the DfT on the ‘Railways for All’ Strategy. In compliance with our own Trunk Road Disability Equality Scheme and Action Plan we have undertaken a full accessibility audit of the trunk road network and we will report annually on our progress in this area.
Transport Scotland is fully supportive of the Government’s Modernising Planning agenda – aimed at streamlining the planning process in Scotland. Integrating land use planning and transport is the key to sustainable economic development and we have been working hard, reviewing all of our processes and guidance, so that we can play our full part in making this happen.
EFFICIENT USE OF PUBLIC RESOURCES
Transport Scotland as a public body is responsible for ensuring it delivers in line with the principles of Efficient Government and best value to make best use of taxpayers’ money. These principles apply not only to what we deliver externally – transport services and projects – but also to how we work internally.
We operate clear internal control systems to ensure consistent, fit-for-purpose processes for project management, procurement, resource management and business systems including information systems. We seek to continuously improve these processes, which are themselves overarched by a robust corporate governance framework.
Once more we fully utilised our available budget of £2,046 million through efficient management control, delivering the maximum potential from the funds available.
A key people task for 2007/08 was to recruit appropriate people to meet our business needs. We invested much time and effort in establishing and running a continuous recruitment campaign but continue to find it difficult to fill all available posts in a highly competitive employment market.
Since its creation, Transport Scotland has been subject to ten audits carried out on various aspects of its functions, five each by Internal Audit and Audit Scotland, with approximately 80% of our annual spend subject to this scrutiny over the last two years. In general, the Agency has been found to have high levels of assurance that our objectives are being met and that appropriate risk management, control and governance arrangements are in place.