A Highlands & Islands MSP today (Thurs) urged the Executive to support calls for the rail line between Inverness and Aberdeen to be upgraded so that an extra commuter service could run.
Green MSP Eleanor Scott argued that the upgrade was essential given the need to reduce traffic levels on the A96 and the possibility of a new settlement of houses being built between Inverness and Nairn. Greens want to see the introduction of a more frequent service from Elgin into Inverness. The Transport Minister Tavish Scott replied that the Executive would be publishing their rail policy document “Scotland’s Railways” as part of the national transport strategy and that is the Executive’s intention to encourage and develop commuter lines to Inverness.
Network Rail had initially dismissed the idea of a more frequent service into Inverness from the North-East citing lack of capacity because the line is single track. However, recent reports suggest that track and platform changes may still be on the cards. (1)
Dr Scott said, “It is ridiculous that a city in the 21st Century is served by a single rail track line. Traffic levels on the A96 desperately need to be reduced, and significant extra pressure will be placed on the local transport network when the new homes are built by Inverness to house thousands of people. It makes perfect sense to dual the whole rail track so that services can run more frequently, so that those in the area can access efficient, accessible and reliable public transport.
“The minister’s response to my questions suggests that the Executive is aware of the difficulties facing commuters in this area. I agree with the Minister’s statement that there is strong pressure for the increased service and there are strong arguments for it in relation to encouraging people to use public transport, as opposed to the car. The link between Inverness and the North-East is important in that context and I look forward to the publication of the rail policy document and expect there to be good news for the people of the Highlands and the North East.