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A9 dualling will make Perth-Inverness rail slower than road

Published 05 November 2015 by Colin Howden

Transport Scotland have this morning confirmed to us that the proposed A9 dualling between Perth and Inverness will condemn the parallel railway to being slower than the road route.

Here’s the response received from Transport Scotland regarding A9 journey times pre- and post-dualling:

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At time of writing, National Rail Enquiries suggests that the fastest journey time for Perth-Inverness is 2 hrs 3 mins. This table says that the impact of the A9 dualling will be to reduce journey times from 2 hrs 9 mins to 1 hrs 49 mins. So the A9 dualling changes the situation to make the railway between Perth-Inverness slower than the road route.

National Rail Enquiries also suggests that the fastest journey time for Edinburgh-Inverness is 3 hrs 20 mins. This table says that the impact of the A9 dualling will be to reduce road journey times on the same route from 2 hrs 57 mins to 2 hrs 39 mins. So an already uncompetitive rail journey time will be made even more so. (It’s already well known that the most uncompetitive section of the rail journey from Inverness to the Capital is the long detour through Fife; see our own Inter-City Express campaign for more on this.)

PS: The comparisons above understate the situation — as the above figures are for the fastest rail times, while the road  journey times provided by Transport Scotland are, firstly, an average (mean) journey time, and, secondly, presumably assumes that road users obey the legal speed limit (which we know from other Transport Scotland data that they often don’t). Given that many rail journey times on this corridors are much slower than those quoted above, using average journey times for both road and rail would show an even worse competitive position for Scottish inter-city rail.

[Article updated on 22/11/15 following receipt of confirmation from Transport Scotland that the road journey time data represents mean journey times.]