Bridge closure an opportunity to cut Forth road traffic long-termPublished 04 December 2015 by Lotti
Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland, responds to the Forth Road Bridge closure announced today.
“It’s very welcome that the Government is now encouraging people to look at car sharing and public transport alternatives for trips across the Forth. But why has it taken this unexpected closure of the Forth Road Bridge to get Scottish Ministers to spring into action?
“While getting more train carriages on rail services across the Forth is to be welcomed, it again raises the question of why the Government hasn’t been putting these plans into place to tackling the everyday overcrowding already seen on many peak-hour services between Fife and Edinburgh.
“We remain concerned at the impact of moving train carriages on to cross-Forth services will have on the rest of ScotRail’s network. This shows the desperate position that ScotRail have been left in when they have no extra rolling stock to cover contingencies such as this. It’s been well-known for some time that ScotRail simply doesn’t have enough carriages to meet demand. This was clearly shown around the launch of the Borders Railway when other services around Scotland were stripped of carriages in order to provide the capacity needed on that route.
Colin Howden continued:
“The Bridge closure will affect road freight movements, but this has to be kept in perspective. Almost 60% of road freight that originates in Fife is to destinations within Fife. Only 12% of Fife road freight is heading for Lothians and the Borders, and the amount that needs to travel via the A1 destinations in the north-east of England makes up only a tiny amount of all Scottish freight. The fact of the matter is that much of the road freight crossing the Forth at Queensferry, from Tayside and northwards, should instead be crossing the Forth at Kincardine and using the well-established M74/M6 motorway route to markets in England.
“If there is any silver lining to the closure of the Bridge, it is that we will be able to see what can be done to reduce car and HGV traffic across the Forth. The volume of road traffic across the Forth is simply not sustainable — Edinburgh certainly can’t take any more traffic — and so this unfortunate event should be used to explore what can be done long-term to cut road traffic levels.”