Public consultation on future rail services launched

Picture: Greg Macvean
Picture: Greg Macvean

A consultation on the future of rail services has been launched on a day of chaos across the network for passengers.

The debate has come after months of upheaval on the nation’s railway lines with Abellio, the Dutch firm which runs the Scotrail franchise, receiving criticism over late running services.

The Scottish Government consultation – which started today when a broken down train caused delays across the country – will last for three months and will give stakeholders and members of the public the opportunity to submit their views on how Scotland’s rail network should operate.

The survey will be used to inform the development of the Scottish Government’s High Level Output Specification (the HLOS) and broader rail investment strategy.

During the consultation period, workshops will be held at key locations across the country, which will reflect all distinct routes and markets that Scotland’s railways serve, to further engage with local stakeholders directly, and understand the needs and priorities of rail customers in these areas.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, said: “This consultation is a real opportunity for interested parties to help shape our future approach to the prioritisation, specification and funding of key rail industry outputs and targets, including core performance measures, as well as the general approach taken to determine future rail infrastructure investment priorities.

“We welcome comments from all stakeholders, passengers and members of the public with an interest in Scotland’s railways and I look forward to attending one of the workshop events myself in the new year.”

He added: “The Scottish Government is committed to delivering a strategy for rail services that meets the needs of our customers now, as well as respond to the challenges that we are likely to face over the next 10 years.

“This includes growing passenger numbers that will place further demands on the railway network.

“The recent refresh of our National Transport Strategy confirmed our key strategic outcomes: to improve journey times and connection, reduce emissions and improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of the transport network in Scotland.

“These aims have been embedded in the ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchise contracts and will continue to drive our approach.”

Submissions from the consultation will help shape the Scottish Ministers’ High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for Control Period 6, covering the five-year period to March 2024.

The HLOS, due to be submitted to the Office of Rail and Road by June 2017, will set out a commitment to improving performance, reducing journey times and increasing the capacity and capability of the Scottish rail network.

The consultation can be found on the Scottish Government’s Citizen Space website at: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/rail-policy/rail-infrastructure-strategy-from-2019

The closing date for responses is Friday, February 24. While exact timings and venues are currently being finalised, those wishing to attend workshops can register their interest by emailing Rail.Infrastructure.Strategy@transport.gov.scot.

Workshop dates:

South Queensferry: 16/01/17

Glasgow: 18/01/17

Aberdeen: 28/11/16

Dingwall: 06/12/16

Dumfries: 24/01/17

Dundee: 12/12/16

Fort William: 13/01/17