AS recognised in your leader, the modified strategy for the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) just announced has considerable merit in offering better value than an over-ambitious strategy offering six inter-city trains per hour with best times of 37 minutes but also intimating the retention and improvement of more localised services with rising usage ("An understandable delay to rail-link ambitions", The Herald, July 5).
The revised strategy of four trains per hour in 42 minutes and including eight-coach trains at peaks is a sensible aim capable of early delivery. It also fits well with subsequent development of faster services between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh as an important additional benefit of phased plans for Anglo-Scottish high-speed rail.
However, the Scottish Government has not explained why the core element of EGIP-Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh electrification – first announced in 2006 – will not now be completed until 2016-17, while Liverpool-Manchester electrification, announced in 2009, will be completed by 2014 with an early extension through to Leeds and York. Instead, Scotland has seen the well-organised Airdrie-Bathgate line team rundown with no electric lines opening in Scotland between December 2010 and mid-2014 at the earliest.
Scottish electrification has stalled despite the high benefits which it offers on busy routes and the added gains of shifts from car use. The Rail Industry Strategy to 2020 favours expanded electrification, not the substantially-slowed schemes of the revised EGIP delaying work on the Dunblane and Alloa lines and other routes around Glasgow and Edinburgh. Government proposals to save £350m on EGIP and accelerate road schemes seem totally out of kilter with the best use of funds to aid the economy and encourage modal shift from cars and lowered carbon.
As a matter of urgency, budgets need to be revised to ensure that the savings made possible by EGIP and road modifications are ploughed back into acceleration of other public transport improvements including expanded rail electrification and associated rolling stock orders, releasing diesel sets for use on other routes. As well as the commitment to Borders Rail opening by 2014-15, the Scottish Government and Network Rail should commit to not less than 30 miles of electrified route extension in each year from 2013. This would allow electrification of the short links from Corkerhill to Paisley Canal and from Shields Road to Bellgrove as well as completion of the Cumbernauld line in early 2014 and Edinburgh-Falkirk-Glasgow not later than December 2015 with the Dunblane, Alloa,Whifflet, Shotts and East Kilbride lines also electrified by 2020.
Vice President, Scottish Association for Public Transport,
11 Queens Crescent,
YOUR leader lets the Scottish Government off too lightly. You state that the decision (to slash the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme) is perfectly understandable at a time when budgets are tight, yet the budget for road expenditure is increased – vastly so when the new Forth crossing is included – and they have recently trumpeted an earlier start to A9 dualling and found £20m for A75 improvements.
The Government always seems to look to rail, buses and active travel (walking and cycling) when finding transport savings. We have already seen the scrapping of the Edinburgh and Glasgow airport rail links and the postponing of improvements to the Highland and Aberdeen-Inverness lines before the news of cuts to the EGIP scheme.
Having wooed active travel voters with promises of increased spending in its manifesto, the SNP cynically cut the cycling and walking budget after the election.
This is a Government that pretends to be interested in preventing climate change and persuading road-users to find other more eco-friendly means of travel, but where it puts its (that is, our) money tells a completely different story of their priorities.
Rose Cottage, Dores, Inverness.
THE announced cut back to the EGIP rail project is disappointing but hardly surprising ("Anger over £350m cut to rail investment plans", The Herald, July 5). EGIP was hurriedly promoted as a priority project after the cancellation of the Glasgow Airport Tail Link (Garl) in 2009 and was never going to deliver the publicised benefits particularly at a cost of more than £1.1 bn.
However such a radical reduction in the EGIP investment tells us two things: first, when added to the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (Earl), Garl and Paisley Corridor Improvements fiascos, it is now time for Audit Scotland to step in and devise best-practice guidelines for how we invest in our rail network.
The other valuable spin-off from the EGIP reduction is that there is clearly money available to complete Garl. The Transport Minister announced the reduced EGIP scheme only weeks after announcing the High Level Output Specification (HLOS), the statement of the Scottish Government's railway plans until the end of the decade. A full-version EGIP was included in the HLOS, which was augmented by a statement of funds available. So simple logic dictates that the money is still available but there is no project to take up such investment.
The capital for the works comes from Network Rail, is therefore ring-fenced and cannot be applied to other departments. Garl creates jobs, gives the construction industry a boost, and solves a problem for Glasgow Airport and brings new fare-paying passengers on to the network. In all likelihood, if properly planned and implemented like NEWgarl, fares will cover costs.
NEWgarl is shovel-ready but is the Scottish Government ready?
23 Greenlees Park,
I WELCOME Transport Minister Keith Brown's announcement regarding EGIP. The project will not only deliver faster journey times between the two cities, but much-needed improvements to Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket stations and the delivery of the Edinburgh Gateway Station, which will connect services to Edinburgh Airport.
However, I am disappointed that the budget for EGIP has been significantly cut back through the identification of some £300m worth of "savings". These have been achieved largely through removing the planned electrification of the Dunblane and Alloa lines.
The £300m reduction of the EGIP budget is not a saving. It is a cut that will mean that significant improvements to rail services in central Scotland, which would lead to improved connectivity and encourage increased use of public transport, will not take place in the foreseeable future.
Chair, South East of Scotland Transport Partnership,
130 East Claremont Street,
THE victory in retaining the Maryhill line in North Glasgow by exposing the consequences of the Scottish Government's vanity project to run two "express" Glasgow-Edinburgh trains per hour shows what can be achieved when local representatives and the press challenge the threat to rail development.
However there are still two more challenges if we are to achieve a "joined-up" rail system in Scotland.
While £85m is being spent to provide a cross-city rail link in Manchester, Glasgow is still denied Crossrail, which would provide, at a fraction of that cost, a key transport route into the Calton and Gorbals development areas as well as connections throughout Central Scotland.
Additionally some of the £350m "saving" from the revised EGIP budget can now be used to construct the Garngad Chord and remove the farcical reversal manoeuvres at Springburn which threaten travel on the Cumbernauld /Falkirk route by extending journey times.
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