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Tom Hart’s transport notes, 1 July to 30 September 2017

Published 30 September 2017 by Colin Howden

Tom HartThis commentary is from Tom Hart from Scottish Association for Public Transport, although they’re his own personal views.

 

MAIN NEW ISSUES

UK government announces long delayed plans to improve air quality and health (and also reducing greenhouse gas emissions). This proposes a ban on sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040 but with Scottish Government seeking such action by 2032.  This could place extra burdens on local authorities and private spenders with no detail on what phased measures could be cost effective, encouraging economic change yet contributing to wider environmental and social objectives.

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce urges that, while some transport infrastructure projects remain important, ‘it is digital connectivity which will become the principal facilitator of economic growth in the 21st century’ (H 1Aug) A wider issue is the conflict between the view that it will be possible to handle rising world population, including ever-increasing movement, with the view that the human population will stabilise with less overall  movement and more emphasis on the environment, conservation, recycling and quality of life (H21Aug).

In Scotland, one example is the concern over conflict between ever-rising tourism (especially by car in rural Scotland) linked with rising air travel (to and from Scotland) and the desire for high quality and equitable environments in cities, towns and rural areas. The nature of the settlement arising from the Brexit vote will also impact on futures for the Scottish economy and society.

AVIATION

Economy Secretary Keith Brown says that Scottish operators will be given additional slots as part of Heathrow expansion plans. Flybe is now competing with Loganair on some Highland services though doubts about how long such competition (and lowered fares) may survive given a low population base. Rising numbers and additional security checks have intensified delays at airports throughout Britain. The number of flights to and from Britain has reached record levels with air traffic control issues intensifying.

Despite high growth in international air trips to and from Scotland, pressure continues for high priority to go to cuts in APD to encourage further growth. Plans for cuts have been delayed pending EU decisions. Labour has welcomed such delays, arguing that tax income would be lost and other priorities for spending delayed. United Airline will start summer-only direct services from Edinburgh to Washington in May 2018

Edinburgh Airport has announced £80m plans to expand capacity at Edinburgh Airport, expected to have over 16.5m passengers by 2021 (H19Aug) 64% of those responding to the consultation on revised flight paths for Edinburgh Airport have raised objections to current proposals (EN20July) CAA has required plans to be delayed pending further investigation. Airport parking charges are rising with a 2-week stay at Edinburgh costing £106, £90 at Glasgow and £78 at Prestwick.

Severe staff shortages problems have forced Ryanair to cancel many flights at short notice over the winter season, including all flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Stansted. The collapse of Monarch (UK’s fifth largest tour operator) plus offers of higher pay to pilots may ease Ryanair’s current difficulty though it, after pressure, has accepted responsibility for substantial compensation to those with flights cancelled.

Loganair has increased weekly flights from Edinburgh to Stornoway from 8 to 11, restoring cuts made earlier this year.   Loganair’s inter-island Orkney flights celebrated 50 years of operation on 27 September. Jet2 is to create 200 new jobs, split between Edinburgh and Glasgow

 

FERRIES &SHIPPING

Scottish Enterprise has backed £350m plans for port expansion south of the present Aberdeen

facility. Completed by 2020, this could help create 2,600 jobs by 2026. The main source of funding will be a £175m loan from the European Investment Bank plus other support as part of an Aberdeen region City Deal.

Scottish Government has announced plans to cut foot passenger fares by 40% and car fares by 33% ferry fares to the Northern Isles in 2018. At present, visitors pay more than island residents but the aim is to give some benefits to residents and boost tourism (as already done on CalMac routes). Extra support costs will be met by the Scottish Government but there is ongoing concern that the policy may aggravate problems at tourist peaks with calls made for greater concessions for tourists not travelling by car – or in a growing number of cases using motorhomes.

In the Orkneys, there have been claims that cruise ship visitors give much less benefit for the local economy than those making longer stays. Controversial proposals have meet made for a local levy on cruise ship visitors along with wider suggestions for tourist levies as a means of raising funds for tourist-related improvement

Westray has secured funding for £2.8m of harbour improvements with £1.7m from the European Fisheries Fund and the balance from Orkney Council

The new ferry terminal at Brodick is nearing completion. Orkney Islands Council and Northlink is intensifying publicity for tourist access to Orkney by ship and for the use of Scapa Flow for ship to ship transfers, as a distribution hub and for supporting oil and gas field decommissioning.

A ‘Save Millport Pier’ campaign has been launched to secure a return of the Waverley and other ships to Millport. Intending Waverley passengers have criticised the lack of information when day cruises had been unable to operate over a period of 11 days in July. The historic turbine steamer Queen Mary II is to have a permanent birth on the Clyde at the Glasgow Science Centre. 150,000 visitors a year are expected. £1.3m of funding has been raised with a further £700,000 needed. The Clydelink Kilcreggan-Gourock passenger ferry has been suspended for safety reasons after ‘diabolical service’. The 12 minute crossing has been replaced by a 50 mile minibus trip.

 

RAIL

Contracts worth over £6bn have been invited for initial sections of HS2 and related stations from

Euston to the West Midlands. Details of the Phase 2a extension to Crewe have also been announced with completion of Phase 1 and 2a scheduled for 2027 subject to further consultation on whether Crewe should be one of the major stations. HSR trains will run through to Glasgow by 2027 but HSR London-Edinburgh services are not now due to start until 2033. Trip times to Glasgow will be influenced by the details of train design and the extent of lesser improvement in alignments where trains will operate mainly on existing route. London-Glasgow times may fall to 3 hours 45 minutes by 2027. Work has started on extra platforms at Edinburgh Waverley but there has been irritation at the failure to take speedy action to ease queues at the ladies’ toilets!

SAPT has called for greater urgency to secure shorter trip times from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London (H22Aug). A study for Transform Scotland has shown that the rail share of Central Scotland-London rail/air passenger travel has risen to between 30% and 35% with further advance anticipated. But carbon savings from such a shift are being eroded by faster growth in international air travel.

The first of the new Azuma trains to be introduced on the East Coast main line has visited Edinburgh. London to Edinburgh trip times will fall to 4 hours with aspirations for trip times from both Glasgow and Edinburgh to London to fall below 4 hours by the later 2020s. The enhanced layout of the new trains being built for Anglo-Scottish overnight services has been put on display with these trains entering service in 2018

DfT is to restore grants towards two Anglo-Scottish rail freight services while, in Scotland, there is a possibility that a Far North-Edinburgh overnight passenger service could include a freight and parcels element. David Spaven, Scottish Representative on the Rail Freight Group, has outlined strategies to raise the rail share of Anglo-Scottish with further gains iwithin Scotland (S 8Aug)

Interest groups away from London are calling for revised priorities to shift emphasis from high-speed rail to a national transport strategy with more funding for upgrades of inter-city services, city metros and an enhanced network especially in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ zone north from Merseyside and the Humber estuary. There has been strong opposition to DfT decisions to scale down the rate of rail electrification in England and increase reliance on bimode trains (more expensive to build and operate) able to run on electric or diesel power (RAIL 832 2Aug)

The Scottish Government is considering plans to allow Scottish public sector companies to bid for the ScotRail passenger franchise and/or ways of ensuring direct control over Network Rail (already a public company). Rail unions and the Labour Party favour full public sector ownership of both track and trains though with the possibility on increased devolution at city or city-region level. Herald editorial (18 Sept) says that ‘public or private, final destination is better rail service’

Abellio ScotRail has delivered its best performance in recent weeks with 94.1% of trains running on time in the month to 16 September. This is close to the top of rail franchise company performance in Britain. Overall, passenger comments are favourable apart from the delays in delivering extra rolling stock and particular problems of reliability on the line north from Inverness. Across Britain complaints continue about rail ticketing and the need to ensure that through fares are not more expensive than ‘split-ticketing’. As in current practice, regulated fares will rise by the rate of inflation in January 2018 but with lower rises in most other fares.

Scottish Ministers have published their own High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for rail Control Period 6 (2019-24). Funds available have still to be specified pending further work but there is strong emphasis on a phased rolling programme of rail improvements – including a steady but reduced pace of rail electrification, clear data on overall gauge standards (allowing wide use of existing and planned rolling stock) and a flexible programme for improvements and related costings, including separate provision for some network extensions in revisions of the National Transport Strategy for Scotland. Transport Scotland is also seeking greater powers to influence Network Rail in Scotland and ensure expanded ‘in-house’ and trained staff working on Scottish schemes and programmes.

The new ScoRail Alliance manager, Alex Hynes, writes that ScotRail is now ‘firmly on the right track’ with more new trains coming into service next year and Queen St High-Level-Edinburgh electric trains soon delivering extra capacity, trip times of 42 minutes by December 2018 and an ability to redeploy existing rolling stock to other routes (H26July) But full delivery of the new electric trains on order has slipped further into 2018. Electrification of the Glasgow-Shotts-Edinburgh line and to Dunblane and Alloa is still expected in 2019.

Extra late-night trains again ran during the Edinburgh Festival. Campaigning continues for an early reopening of the line from Thornton to Levenmouth. With the line of route intact, locals ask why this project to aid commuting is taking so long compared to an expensive new Forth road bridge. Transport Scotland has announced further evaluation of the Levenmouth case (S28Sept). Writers to the press also ask why there is continued delay in reopening the existing City Union rail route across Glasgow for passengers from south-west to north and east (Glasgow Crossrail), attracting to rail many car travellers crossing Glasgow (H7&18Aug)

Compared to road times, action is being sought to improve rail trip times between Edinburgh and Perth, linking this with accelerated plans for increased rail capacity and shorter trips times between Perth and Inverness as part of reassessment of rail and road priorities for the Edinburgh-Inverness corridor (H28,29&30Aug)

Short sections of signalled operation of rail and road services are being considered on the side of Loch Carron to avoid the much higher costs of new road to minimise landslip risks. An alternative could be conversion of the whole route from Dingwall to Kyle to tram operation (LTT 727 21July)

Network Rail has since rejected this concept due to concerns over safety and reliability.

CBR is intensifying campaigning for full rail reopening from Tweedbank to Carlisle (S7Aug). Support has been gained from the City of Carlisle but outcomes will be influenced by current Transport Scotland studies of overall transport needs in the Borders. Prospects for a Tweedbank-Hawick reopening are likely to be stronger unless a further extension can be justified by heavy use of rail for the maturing of extensive timber. Borders Rail still has substantial reliability and overcrowding problems, expected to ease when more trains transfer from other routes in 2018.

ScotRail is cashing in on Harry Potter enthusiasm by launching a ‘grand tour’ of the Highlands, including the Glenfinnan viaduct, for less than £90 – not by special trains but by purchasing a pass allowing rail travel on four out of eight consecutive days with passengers proceeding clockwise or anti-clockwise. Some ferry and coach travel is included (H11Sept)

Volunteers have started work on a short narrow-gauge line extension from Leadhills into Wanlockhead. Completion is expected in 2020 (S21Aug)

 

BUS, TRAM & TAXI

Scottish Government is considering whether aspects of the EW Transport Bill could be incorporated in the Scottish Bill being prepared between now and 2021. Consultations have started on a new Buses Bill, bus travel concessions and smart ticketing. Proposals include replacing unused Statutory Quality Partnerships with Service Improvement Partnerships (SIPs). Responses ae requested by 5 December (LTT732 p7,29Sept).

Controversially, free travel is likely to be available only to those over state pension age plus the disabled plus teenage carers between 16 and 18 who do at least 16 hours of caring a week. More radical views being put to government are that the free travel concession should be available only for local travel by any local mode (not just buses) in ways at least preventing any loss of funding for public transport network support rather than the social and job access damage caused by further erosion of overall public transport of co-ordinated public transport networks.

Glasgow City Council is proposing to ban buses from Glasgow City Centre by the end of next year unless vehicles meet the toughest EU standards for emissions. This would be Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone (LEZ)

This has provoked a threatened legal response from McGill’s buses on the grounds of unfair discrimination against buses (the only vehicles initially covered in the LEZ) and the risk of rising operating costs leading to rising fares, fewer bus services and increasing car use in cities – also uncertainty over the precise area to be covered by the LEZ. There is support for a more widely based LEZ and for other measures of city bus support which would reduce existing delays to buses and raise the number of passengers and net income(H22,25,28&29Sept)

Reminders were given that the congested and polluting Waterloo St bus station in Glasgow was closed in 1971, only to be replaced by a slightly more open Anderston bus station further from the city centre and closing in the early 1990s when the more spacious and better designed Buchanan Bus Station opened.

In a £2.7m investment, Lothian Buses has ordered the first 6 all electric buses to operate from Clermiston via the city centre to Easter Road in Leith. This route will be fully electric by late 2018 and, along with other measures to reduce emissions from diesel buses, should cut the bus carbon footprint 42% by 2020

30 new custom-built buses will cut CO2 40% and NOX 99%. They will operate on routes through the most polluted area in Edinburgh, St John’s Rd in Corstorphine (EN20July).

Bus use remains sluggish in most of Scotland but Edinburgh Bustours, operated by Lothian Buses, now carry 600,000 passengers a year on four tours (up 24%) and now the second most attractive paid attraction in Edinburgh, overtaking Edinburgh Zoo. Stagecoach reports that their reduced and amended express bus service between Glasgow and North Ayrshire has led to encouraging off-peak usage of services diverted via Braehead Shopping Centre.

Birmingham is considering a culling of bus stops to allow high frequency services to operate with shorter trip times and fewer buses

The new hourly First West Lothian 21A bus service from Fauldhouse via Livingston to Edinburgh Airport is proving hugely popular

Edinburgh Trams returned an operating profit of £252,000 in 2016 (compared to a £22,000 loss in 2015) Patronage has risen 10.6% to 5.6m.   During the Edinburgh Festival, an all-night half-hourly tram service operated on Saturdays.

The long delayed Edinburgh tram inquiry is revealing major defects in the planning and contracting process but there is growing support for a £165m extension to Leith and Newhaven, possibly opening as early as 2022 though a final decision may come after the report from the Tram Inquiry. Exclusive of the extension, tram usage is expected to reach 7.2m by 2022 with a further 6.4m added by the extension. By 2032, total tram usage within an integrated Edinburgh transport network is expected to be 21m (LTT730,p9, 1Sept)

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce is also advocating longer-term tram extensions to the whole of the Waterfront zone and to the two other development zones in south-east and west Edinburgh.

There has been a rise in complaints of several rural areas in Scotland – notably in Skye, on the North Coast 500 route and in the Loch Lomond/Trossachs Park being overloaded by visitors using and parking cars and also by excessive wear on paths. New strategies are being suggested to improve conditions, possibly including National Park status for Skye, but also new approaches to funding improvements not possible within existing local authority or bus operator budgets – including earmarked tourist taxation or the return of Skye Bridge tolls. Plans could feature improved public transport (bus, rail and ferry) and improved conditions for walking and cycling.

Royal Mail has terminated the last Postbus route in Scotland (from Lairg to Tongue) amid acrimony over funding from Highland Council (S19Aug)

The rise use and size of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters are creating problems when disabled users seek to use bus and rail transport and move in shopping malls and streets

Lothian Airlink buses and Aberdeen buses now accept contactless payment for tickets

Network Rail has put ‘on hold’ plans for a taxi rank at New St (adjacent to Waverley station) pending examination of other options for the site.

Edinburgh Council is maintaining the 1,316 taxi limit in the city. There are now more private hire cars than taxis with conflict between ‘black cabs’ and private hire/Uber operators (EN 14&16Aug).

Two Edinburgh taxi firms are competing with lower fares for wheelchair users.

North Ayrshire Council is proposing new zonal fares for taxis with £2.80 as a flat minimum with a 50% rise when zonal boundaries are crossed.

 

ROADS & PARKING

The new Queensferry crossing had an official opening by the Queen on 4 September, the 53rd anniversary of her opening of the Forth Road Bridge. The bridge closed to traffic for 3 days to meet high demand for people to walk across the bridge which will not normally be open to pedestrians. The bridge has attracted design plaudits but, as a two-lane motorway, it replaces the former two-lane bridge – closed for while being adapted as a bus, pedestrian and cycle use bridge. Peak congestion has re-appeared on the new bridge but is expected to ease as ‘curiosity use’ ends.

Pleas have been made for a longer-term reopening the old bridge to all users or perhaps to cars having two or more occupants. Writing in the Herald (30Aug) Rosemary Goring says ‘you can marvel at this feat of engineering but still bemoan the reasons that lie behind it. There must come a time when we stop striving for more (movement by car) and plan instead (for what is) more sustainable. The Queensferry Crossing is magnificent, but for me it is a bridge of sighs’

Road haulage continues to experience ageing drivers and an acute labour shortage (also affecting some bus services). The Scottish Government desire that all news cars and vans should not be diesel or petrol 2032 has been queried on the basis of the high cost of a huge expansion of electric charging points and the costs of adapting car design and the nature of the electric power network.

Rural regions are seeking a shift of emphasis from Central Belt roads to upgrades of other principal roads in the north and in the Borders zone from south Lanarkshire across to Berwick. Day-long closures for work on the Oban-Fort William road had to be avoided and more spending was needed to alleviate problems from tourist traffic growth and parking problems in Skye and on the North Coast 500. Work on the A1, A68 and A7 was needed as were upgrades on the A82 and A87

Transport Scotland has announced a £50m design contract for 26 miles of A96 dualling south-east from Huntly. The aim is still to complete A9 Perth-Inverness dualling by 2025 and A96 Inverness-Aberdeen dualling by 2030. Award-winning designer of the Falkirk Wheel has been named as designer of a £91m new opening bridge across the Clyde at Renfrew as part of the Glasgow Region City Deal. There will also be a new bridge over the White Cart, improving access to Glasgow Airport Development Zone. (H11&13July). Edinburgh Airport is planning to close the subsidiary runway to release land for intensive commercial and housing development between Gogar and the Airport, including a new road to ease pressure on Eastfield Rd and links with public transport improvements (H11July)

Edinburgh Airport drop-off parking costs now reach £5 for 15 minutes, £1 higher than at Glasgow, twice as expensive as Aberdeen and three times Prestwick rates. The Scottish Government is consulting on plans for £20 a day fines on high-pollutant cars in LEZs in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. These could be as early as 2020 but some delay is likely (EN9Sept)

Glasgow City Council is consulting on plans to intensify parking restrictions at Ibrox and Parkhead stadia. On a UK basis, new systems of road charging (and reduced fuel taxation) are receiving more attention. Lack of cash has delayed plans for extra parking at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

Inverness is to pilot free parking for up to 15 minutes in on-street pay and display areas

The Cairngorm Business Partnership has appointed a project manager to develop car tourist use of the Snow Roads Scenic Route from Blairgowrie to Grantown via Deeside and Tomintoul.

Transform Scotland has urged faster action to extend 20mph limits in city centres and on residential streets. Sustrans also see such limits as boosting health and the local environment through rises in cycling and walking.

Campaigns are developing for more rigorous testing of older motorists on busy motorways but such tests do not reflect the reality of older motorists making decreasing use of motorways with driving confined to local roads. Driving tests are to be extended to include a motorway element and appreciation of sat nav. But with fewer motorways in Scotland and a higher proportion of rural roads with high accident rates, some areas may include more practice on rural roads.

Average speed cameras are to be installed on the A90 between Dundee and Stonehaven while Edinburgh has introduced the first urban average speed cameras on Old Dalkeith Road.

20mph speed limits in Edinburgh are still being widely ignored. Average speeds have edged down with low limits attracting general support in surveys but with calls for some main roads within the city to have a higher limit. A national policy and effective signage may be more appropriate. Road deaths up 18% to 191 in 2016, serious injuries up 6% to 1,693 – slight injuries down 2% to 8,997

Distractions from mobile phones and in-car screens are seen as the main cause (H29Sept)

Deaths and serious injuries on the North Coast 500 tourist route are up almost 50% from 6 deaths and 16 serious accidents in 2014 to 9 deaths and 23 serious accidents in 2016

 

WALKING & CYCLING

Media letters reflect continuing tensions between cyclists and pedestrians with the latter seeing the former as often inconsiderate and riding at excessive speed without warning. Cyclists argue that most are considerate and point to a need for a stronger alliance to reduce speeds and road traffic volumes. A possible solution may be lower cycle speed limits in walk/cycle zones in conjunction with a separate network of ‘fast’ cycle routes.

Present conditions on Edinburgh’s Princes St are unacceptable with long waits for green lights at pedestrian crossings and excessive volumes of buses which could divert to other streets or with passengers using an intensified tram frequency (available at no extra cost to bus users). Other options suggested are wider space on Princes St for ‘express’ bike users or cyclist diversions to an improved route via George St.

Other complaints have been excessive speeds by cyclists on Portobello promenade. A new 3km walk/cycle route on former rail track between Shawfair and Gilmerton is due to open in December

Glasgow City Council plans to rejuvenate Sauchiehall St include continued walk/cycle sharing at the east end but separate cycling lanes on the western section. Cyclists argue that expanded use of city cycling requires city-wide, segregated cycling networks.

Transport Scotland has awarded £22m to five pedal-friendly schemes – including links from the Forth & Clyde Canal to Port Dundas and work in Sighthill and Sauchiehall St plus the West Edinburgh Active Travel Network.

An emerging issue is how to resolve conflicts between walkers, cyclists and growing numbers of mobility scooters in shopping malls and on streets.

Edinburgh City Council has announced £12m of extra investment in cycling infrastructure.

New cycle lanes and marking are to be installed at five points on the Edinburgh tram network to encourage safety by better angles when cyclists cross tram track. Cycle spaces at Edinburgh Haymarket are now fully used with a need for more spaces.

Dockless biking has yet to appear in Scotland but has expanded in London and Cambridge, creating new problems of indiscriminate bike parking and cases of vandalism (LTT727 21 July)

Two farmers in the Borders have been criticised for reckless tack throwing on roads during a cycling event

 

PLANNING & PROPERTY

Scottish Government has controversial plans to replace Strategic Development Plans for city regions with a strengthened National Planning Framework (NPF) with regional partnerships feeding into this process. In the SPT area, work has started on how to link plans for this area (which includes Ayrshire) with work on the Glasgow City Region and Clyde Valley plans being developed for the more restricted Glasgow and Clyde Valley Planning area(LTT32 29Sept p6)

The long-awaited Edinburgh, South-east and Fife City Deal has been announced. It includes provision for grade separation at the Edinburgh Bypass Sheriffhall roundabout but shares criticism with other City Deals that pet political projects and ‘big’ business preferences have led to an excessive concern with new road schemes rather that strategies to build stronger and more inclusive city economies making more rapid progress in improving air quality and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The UK Committee on Climate Change has called for more attention to these issues in future strategy for transport, the economy and the environment.

The Edinburgh City Deal includes £20m for public transport infrastructure in West Edinburgh and £150m for infrastructure to unlock 5,000 new homes in the Winchburgh area in association with a new rail station. Fife is disappointed at the lack of any significant benefits.

Planning applications are expected for a mix of commercial and housing development between Edinburgh Park and Gyle in an area of vacant land crossed by the tram route. Elsewhere, major housebuilder CDG complains that housebuilding is still being delayed by planners

In the continuing review of the Scottish Planning System bus operators have called for greater efforts to use land allocations in ways facilitating, rather than hampering, bus use. A similar argument applies to rail schemes. In recent years several of these, including new stations and tram/outer suburban expansion have assisted rail patronage but with a potential disconnect of rail and land use planning from the early 2020s.

Local authorities are likely to ask housing developers to make larger contributions to new infrastructure and schooling required to serve developments (H5Aug). Legal decisions are still awaited on the ability to impose levies over a period of years to facilitate necessary infrastructure

Following completion of the Queensferry Crossing the Scarborough Muir Group is pushing for a 120 acres commercial development on the Rosyth waterfront

Braehead Shopping Centre reports less buoyant trading though Silverburn has expanded its shopping and entertainment range. Shopping continues to fall in many town centres and in some city streets (such as Sauchiehall St in Glasgow and Union St in Aberdeen) but efforts are emerging to secure a wider range of cultural and entertainment attractions. Both Paisley and Dumfries are considering such plans. Boots and Next are committed to a long-term presence in Stirling centre.

Either Glasgow or Edinburgh is expected to have the first Low Emission Zone(LEZ) for vehicles in Scotland by 2018. Early progress with such zones is seen as more important than the UK Government plan to abolish sales of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040 (2032 in Scotland)

Bob Downie of the Strathclyde Cycle Campaign has called for planning changes to aid cycling and the local environment through large reductions in on-street city parking

 

RESEARCH & STATISTICS

National Travel Survey The NTS for 2016 shows a fall in distance travelled in England (excluding short walks – defined as less than a mile) from 7,104 miles per person in 2002 to 6,396. This includes a 3% fall on 2015 but excludes rising overseas travel. Average annual mileage of a household car is down from 9,200 in 2002 to 7,800 in 2016. Rail travel has risen and separate assessments of all walking trips indicate some growth. The NTS now covers only residents of England as the Scottish and Welsh Governments have withdrawn funding. However, the Scottish trend in travel per head is unlikely to be different (LTT728 4Aug)

(The data excludes international travel and travel within England by non-residents. Overall, booming air travel and rises in tourism continue to boost total yearly distances travelled)

 

Air Passenger Travel

Glasgow Airport had a record 1.1m passengers in July (international up 10.1% but domestic down 0.2%) Long-haul routes were up 12.4%. Edinburgh Airport had its busiest July on record with 1.4m passengers (international up 8.6% and domestic up 1.4%). Aberdeen grew 2.7% with international up 5.45% and domestic 3.9%. Domestic passengers at Edinburgh Airport fell from 6.1m in 2012 to 5.2m in 2016 but international passengers rose from 3.1m to 6.9m

 

Car Sales New car sales in Scotland were down 13.7% in July with a further fall in August including a sharper shift away from new diesel cars with electric and hybrid sales up but still from a low base. Purchase prices and a limited range are the main barriers to large rises in electric sales.

 

Scottish Road Traffic Car traffic in Scotland in 2016 was 2% up on 2015 Existing Transport Scotland Models project a 27% rise in road traffic by 2035, influenced in part by population growth. Revised scenarios are being considered as part of work on a new Transport Strategy. Network Rail expects considerably higher levels of rail passenger growth though with freight growth more problematical. The Scottish Government HLOS aims at a 7.5% rise in rail freight tonne miles between 2019 and 2024

Road Traffic in Britain provisional DfT data for 2017 shows:- Change on 2016   since 2007

Vans     +3.6%       + 22.4%

HGVs    -1.5%           -8%

Cars     +1.3%         +2.1%

SInce 2007 traffic growth on Urban A roads has been negative but positive on motorways and other roads

 

Rail Traffic in Britain ORR data shows growth in rail passenger trips slowing to 0.8% in 2016/17 with an 0.5% fall in rail trips in London and the South-east. KPMG is to explore a range of current and future trends which could affect rail demand (LTT230 1 Sept,p13)

Transport and Travel Report Scotland 2016 shows 67% travel to work by car, 12% walk (52% for travel to school) with cycle, air and ferry use up, walking static and bus use down. Total Car traffic on Scottish roads was up 2% and bus passengers down 3.8% on 2015.

ScotRail passenger volumes Growth expected to be lower in 2017 due to industrial disputes, engineering works and delays in delivery of additional rolling stock. Data on trips starting in the SPT area suggests growth from 62m trips in 2016-17 to at least 64m in 2017-18

Edinburgh Gateway Station Only 135,000 people have used this costly new interchange in its first eight months, well below expected yearly usage of 500,000 to 600,000. Effective interchange with buses, as well as the Edinburgh tram is lacking while plans for some Glasgow Queen St to Edinburgh trains to run through the interchange have been dropped. Higher use is expected as the West Edinburgh Business Zone (plus the Airport) expands along with plans for housing on the north side of the station.

Ferries Boosted by fare reductions, CalMac passengers rose 7.1% to 1.87m between January and May. Cars were up 8% to 502,000 and coaches up 8.6% to 2,900. At Cairnryan, P&O passenger numbers were up 5.1% to 138,000 with the Stena route to Belfast up 1.3% to 296,000 (S29July)

Walking Visit Scotland has found that the number of walkers taking trips of more than 2 miles is 18% up on 2014 with the total now over 2m trips. 4m of trips by visitors in 2015 included walking as an activity. Women between 45 and 64, mainly in professional occupations, are now the largest age group among walkers (H4 Aug)

After Manchester, Edinburgh has had the a growth of population second only to Manchester between 2006 and 2016 (+12.2% and 55,000 people) Glasgow’s growth was 8.2% (46,600 people)

A Rough Guides poll has rated Scotland the world’s most beautiful country (with Cananda 2, England 7 and Wales 10). Airbnb and Scotland’s tourist centres have recorded record numbers of users. Edinburgh had an annual average of 1.6 overseas tourist visitors between 2014 and 2016 compared to an 0.6m average for Glasgow and 1.1m for Manchester (EN 21Sept)

Cambridge Econometrics estimate that a 2040 ban on petrol and diesel cars would push up UK electricity demand by less than 10%. Demand will be smoothed by pricing policies discouraging charging at peaks. Battery technologies are likely to lower present costs substantially with other fuels and wind and solar storage capacity also improved.

National Grid reports that from 21 June to 22 September, almost 52% of electricity generation came from non-fossil sources, up from 35% in 2013.

£500m of M8, M73 and M74 improvements were completed in August with Transport Scotland estimating that timesavings alone will contribute more than £1bn to the Scottish economy (H15Aug). Prof David Metz argues that heavy reliance on time savings in transport appraisal leads to investment decisions running counter to Government aims (LTT30 p11,1Sept) Valuations of timesaving give misleading estimates of the extent to which transport schemes can contribute to overall economic and social objectives

Analysing car trips, In-car Cleverness has found average speeds in central Edinburgh are 6.64 mph, the slowest after London and Manchester. The Glasgow average was 6.84mph, well down on the previous year (and also affecting buses)

An AA survey has put tailgating top of the worst habits of fellow drivers.

A Napier University study has found clear links between congested streets and illness (S18Aug) though a British Government technical report has found that the adverse impact of NOX emissions has been exaggerated (LTT730 1Septp5).

Drivers on average waste 44 hours a year in searching for parking spaces. This converts to a financial cost of £733m in wasted time, fuel and extra emissions. Glasgow was rated the eighth worst place for parking with Edinburgh in ninth place.

Cambridge plans to introduce some autonomous public transport routes, partly based on segregated bus corridors and some tunnelling in the centre.

UK residents are taking more, but shorter, holidays than 20 years ago with similar trends in other countries. In 2016, UK residents took 45m overseas holidays compared to 27m in 1996. Most extra travel is by air, aided by the growth of budget airlines (H 8Aug)

The prolonged tramtrain pilot project in the Sheffield area is well over budget with particular problems in the varied standards applying to high voltage AC and low voltage DC overhead wiring. Accommodating high-voltage and low-voltage equipment in vehicle design also raises both the initial cost and running cost of tramtrains (RAIL832 2 Aug p60-63). Studies continue on possible tramtrain operation to Glasgow Airport.

DfT is to start lorry platooning trials in late 2018 – including 3 or more vehicles controlled by one driver and giving energy saving by moving closer together. Some practical problems are seen on busy motorway with closely-spaced junctions while longer freight trains can offer similar gains with containers close together.

More study is needed of the implications of autonomous transport on the space needed for vehicle operation and parking in cities. A large rise of autonomous transport in small, hired vehicles could increase, rather than decrease, the street space needed for vehicle operation and parking between hires unless accompanied by a large autonomous sector using ‘joined-up’ vehicles mainly or entirely or partly segregated route i.e. a variant of present day mass transit

On trials in Nevada, a hyperloop vehicle using magnetic levitation in a vacuum tube has reached 70mph – but much more work is required to reach target speeds of 750mph and to assess the commercial potential of hyperloop services. Robert Noland, Transportation Professor at Rutgers University says hyperloops are unlikely to be cheaper and even less likely to be practical (EN 14July)

 

BUSINESS & PERSONELL

Scotland won a record number of foreign direct investment projects in 2016 with a bias towards technology, software and life sciences players. Scotland’s hotel sector is seeing surging investors from overseas.

Former Weir Group boss Keith Cochrane has become interim chief executive of the troubled Carillion infrastructure and facilities company (which has gained some of the initial HS2 contracts)

EasyJet has upgraded profits after a strong Easter – sales are up 16% and passengers up 10.8%

Paul Thomas has moved from National Express to manage Stagecoach East Scotland

ASG Airports (owners of Glasgow and Aberdeen) doubled profits to £26m despite adverse conditions at Aberdeen

Barrhead Travel is increasing staff despite an 11% fall in profits to £2.8m but fears some adverse impacts from Brexit – as also does the logistics industry.

Dutch state owned Abellio ScotRail reports a £3.5m loss in 2016 and has drawn £10m of extra support its parent state company

First continues to be affected by low US fuel prices in USA together with some fall in bus usage in south-west USA and in UK. Dividends are again being withheld due to a focus on measures improving the future position of the company in the UK and USA

Stagecoach reports difficult conditions in the bus industry and acute problems in its East Coast rail franchise where it is seeking to secure lower annual payments to government.

McGill’s buses may seek a stock market flotation with David Martin, recently retired Chief Executive of Arriva, now on the board of McGill’s

BMW has announced that an electric version of the Mini is to be built at Oxford from 2019

The new Chair of SPT is Green councillor Marton Bartos

An Active Travel Task force for Scotland has been formed with Roy Brannen of Transport Scotland as Chair. Other members come from COSLA, SEStran, Nestrans and Sustrans Scotland

Also formed has been the Scottish Alliance for People and Places with Henry McLeish as Chair. Members include PAS, RTPI, Paths for All, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, COSLA and the Institute of Civil Engineers Scotland

The Scottish Government is to appoint an Active Travel Commissioner to aid the aim of doubling spend on walking and cycling to £80m a year by 2018/19

There is to be a new UK study of rail access for the mobility impaired. This may permit level access from platform to train on a higher proportion of city rail networks and maybe on some other lines

The UK Government is to set up a Transport Research and Innovation Board (TRIB) to work with the UK Research Institute (UKRI)

 

Publications

Key Reported Road Casualties Scotland, 2016 web published Transport Scotland, June 2017

The Scottish Ministers’ High Level (Rail) Output Specification for Control Period 8 (2019-24)

Web published by Transport Scotland, July 2017

State of Scotland’s Economy, Reform Scotland, June 2017

Blueprint for Local Power, Reform Scotland (argues case for greater devolution within Scotland)

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