THE SCOTTISH Government will prioritise drawing up plans to expand Edinburgh’s tram network and establish a “metro” system in Glasgow as part of a joined-up sustainable transport vision.

The two projects, which have previously been touted, have been included in the Scottish Government’s transport investment priorities for the next 20 years.

In Glasgow, the "metro" plans will include connecting the city with “the immediate surrounding areas” such as Dumbartonshire, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire.

Officials have suggested the strategy could include “bus rapid transit, tram, light rail and/or metro rail” and could be “integrated with the bus and heavy rail networks”.

If pushed forward, the metro system could include “completely new alignments, reuse of disused former railway alignments and/or the conversion of existing rail alignments to a new mode”.

Plans have also recognised the need for “the creation of light rail / metro system from Glasgow Airport to Glasgow Central Station”.

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A new study has also suggested that “the city centre street grid is well suited to potential on street operations” and the project is “likely to be delivered in multiple phases over a significant time period”.

Leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken said: “The success of Glasgow and its surrounding region is absolutely fundamental to the Scottish economy.

“Today’s report not only makes clear the pressing economic, environmental and social case for a much better-connected city and region, it also shows the potential of the Metro project to deliver that transformation.

“Those were also key findings of the expert and independent connectivity commission that I tasked with taking a fresh look at Glasgow’s transport and travel challenges - and which first proposed a metro project. I’m very pleased that STPR2 builds so strongly on that work.”

In Edinburgh, plans to further expand the tram network are already being taken forward by the city council through the authority's city mobility plan.

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But the Transport Scotland work is looking at “delivering mass transit connectivity from the north of the city (Granton), through the city centre to the south/east extremities of the city boundary and on to East or Midlothian”.

HeraldScotland: The Scottish Government's analysis of potential tram extension routes in EdinburghThe Scottish Government's analysis of potential tram extension routes in Edinburgh

It adds that "further extension could result in increasing frequency of mass transit services to Edinburgh from neighbouring local authorities or introducing a south suburban railway within the city and a cross-Forth light rail transit system to Fife.”

Other priorities set out in the Scottish Government’s plans for investment include development of active freeways and expansion of 20mph zones, improving public transport with reallocation of road space for buses, investment in alternative fuels and progressing decarbonisation of rail services.

There will also be an attempt to encourage freight to move from road to rail and enable larger loads to be moved by train.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway said: “Rail is one of the greenest forms of public transport and we, alongside the Scottish Government, are working hard to decarbonise Scotland’s Railway by 2035.

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“The rail industry is also ready to play its part in boosting the economy as we emerge from the pandemic - encouraging the public onto greener forms of transport and helping take lorries off Scotland’s roads by improving freight services on our railway.”

The priorities also include improved resilience of the trunk road network at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful following a string of closures on the key route.

Last week’s draft Budget includes a £3.2 billion investment for transport in 2021-22 including £1.6 billion for rail and bus services.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “As we continue to navigate our way through an unprecedented global health emergency, the investment decisions we make have never been so important. We want to lock in the changes to the healthy, green travel options we’ve seen during the pandemic, while supporting interventions that will aid and help accelerate economic recovery.

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“We are conducting a thorough, evidence-based review of the performance of Scotland’s strategic transport network across active travel, bus, ferry, rail and the trunk road network and my thanks go to everyone who is engaged in that process, particularly our regional transport working groups.

“Phase one sets out some of our transport investment priorities for the next few years, which will support a fair and sustainable economic recovery from the pandemic, while working towards our longer term goals of making Scotland more accessible for residents, visitors and businesses; improving connectivity and highlighting the vital contribution that transport investment can play in enabling and sustaining Scotland’s economic growth.

“STPR2 will help us to deliver the vision, priorities and outcomes set out in our national transport strategy as well as aligning with other important national plans such as the climate change plan, infrastructure investment plan and national planning framework.”