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Tom Hart’s transport notes, 1 April to 30 June 2018

Published 30 June 2018 by Transform Scotland

Transport commentary from Tom Hart of Scottish Association for Public Transport (SAPT).

MAIN ISSUES

The Brexit debate continues to leave much uncertainty about the future state of the British economy and a changing role for transport. Wider changes in trend show slower growth or falls in passenger movement per head within the UK. The growth in car use is now considerably lower than population growth – influenced by the changing nature of the economy with less regular commuting, more working from home and the use of electronics to shop and be entertained from home (see All Change -Report of Commission on Travel Demand). It favours a ‘Green Growth’ approach to transport and access, noting the substantial fall in car use among younger generations and changing public and government attitudes. It seeks a wider range of scenarios before decisions and greater use of local forecasts along with further study of why growth on motorways continues but with other road traffic in and around cities staying stable or falling (LTT 747 11 May p 4-5) There is evidence that this is affecting the volume of rail as well as bus travel especially into London. In Scotland and other regions, much higher current levels of car modal share offer greater potential for improvements in quality, pricing and land use strategy to ensure rises in the modal share of local public transport and cycling with related gains for both the economy and society. Compared to motorways, rail growth for longer distance travel may increase rail modal share.

The need for increased cuts in carbon and other pollution emitted from transport is likely to be met by a combination of car and road freight decarbonisation measures, some further cuts in movement per head and a rising modal share for public transport (aided by automation), cycling and walking within Britain.

Overseas air travel is likely to see continuing, but slowing, growth and a rising share for leisure rather than business travel – weakening the case for extra capacity at London Heathrow.

These changes, and other fiscal and regulatory issues, also have implications for the funding of transport and access. With rising funds for the NHS, Social Care and Defence, public funding for transport is under pressure with a need to control costs and increase income from charging and other innovative measures, including an integrated reform of road and public transport charging and sources such as tourist, land value or other levies. Times of 24 May makes specific calls for shift of HS2 funding to NHS. Total public sector capital spend on transport is likely to fall with rail capital spend reviewed to give better value and to aid a strategic shift of funding towards public transport fares below car use costs. The return to large-scale spending on inter-regional roads has also been questioned.

AVIATION

Scottish Government has delayed reduction in ADT for a further year. SNP MPs abstained in the vote for a third runway at Heathrow. It passed by a large majority but there are other hurdles before work can begin. Some see a benefit in that it could allow more flights from Scotland for global connections at Heathrow but others argue most of these will be used for international flights and that Scotland, and some English airports, could gain from a deflection of extra flights away from Heathrow using the more economical aircraft now available for direct long-haul flights (H22&26Jun)

Edinburgh now has direct summer flights to Washington. Direct flights from Beijing also started in June.

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports are consulting on flight path adjustments which could increase airport capacity but bring more noise to some areas. Thomas Cook has introduced new weekly flights from Edinburgh to Antalya, the Turkish holiday hotspot. Edinburgh has been ranked the 11th worst in Britain with flight delays averaging 15.8 minutes.

After severe winter conditions led to a marginal fall in Edinburgh Airport use in March, Edinburgh had its busiest-ever April with passengers up 5.7% to more than 1.2m. International passengers up 7.2%. Under new plans, air users may face criminal charges if drinking their own alcohol. Glasgow has had direct Dubai flights for a decade. Direct flights from Edinburgh will start in October. For the first time in six years, Loganair has re-introduced newspapers deliveries using the 7.15am flight from Glasgow to Benbecula.

Scottish Government has seen no return on the £40m of public money pumped into Prestwick Airport since it was acquired in 2013. Losses since then amount to £24m with hopes still pinned on prospects as a spaceport. Otherwise, Prestwick could be sold as a valuable building site (H21Jun)

FERRIES & SHIPPING

CalMac and the Scottish Government are facing complaints about chronic delays and cancellations on ferry services, due to delivery delays on new and arguably over complicated larger ships and rising tourist numbers aided by the extension of lower RET fares leaving no spare capacity at summer peaks. More breakdowns and delays are predicted over the busy holiday season (H3Apr)

The New Brodick Pier and Terminal has opened with plans for equivalent work at Ardrossan to follow.

Action is being sought to shorten the distance for foot passengers between trains and the ferry at Ardrossan, together with integrated train and ferry fares with shorter times between ship and train.

The Outer Hebrides aims for a 20% rise in on the current 218,000 visitors by 2020 – also including increased per capita visitor spend in the area, especially away from high-peak periods. Western Isles Council is also studying fixed links to replace ferries between Harris and Uist and between Uist and Barra.

Funding towards these may come from Island Deals similar to City Deals (H7May) Western Islands Council is also calling for a higher proportion of CalMac staff to live on the islands H19Apr) David MacBrayne, operators of CalMac ferries has gained £1.2m compensation from ATOS IT for failure to implement a workable ticketing system (H6Apr) Closure of island tourist offices has made it more difficult for tourists, especially foreigners, to gain information on ferry and island bus times.

Aided by EU Research Fund, Ferguson Marine will build a zero emission hydrogen ROPAX ferry in 2020. Will be used to ferry passengers around the Orkney islands (H23Jun)

CalMac has established a 12 member, independent Community Board to give islanders a greater say in the running of CalMac services (H25April)

Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, has been lauded for much work to ensure canalside development and more visitors, especially to the Forth and Clyde Canal, but attacked for failing to ensure funds to repair lock gates which have led to canal closure for through traffic by water.

DFDS has closed the freight ferry between Rosyth and Zeebrugge. Passenger cruises to Scotland continue to rise with Fort William having its first ever cruise ship, with 800 passengers and crew, in April. Further work is planned to allow larger cruise ships to call. A local company working on harbour development believes Fort William could build up to 200 cruise ships per year (H30Apr) Port of Cromarty has lined up £25m for a longer berth able to take larger cruise ships. Cruise ships are expected to be worth £17m for the Highlands and Islands in 2018. Invergordon is expected to handle 170,000 passengers, up from 150,000 in 2017. 85 excursions have been organised for cruise ship visitors (H4Jun)

A volunteer crew is being sought to ensure a return of Maid of the Loch sailings on Loch Lomond by 2019.

Usage around 95,000 passengers per year is anticipated (H19Apr)

Publicly-owned Scottish Water is completing £3.5bn of capital investment in water and waste water infrastructure between 2015 and 2021. This includes the 3.1m Shieldhall tunnel in Glasgow, due to open later this year. Average household bills are £363, £42 lower than the average in England & Wales (H26June)

RAIL

16 May saw the controversial announcement that Stagecoach/Virgin East Coast trains is to revert to temporary public ownership. This change took place in June with East Coast name altered to a revival of the former LNER name (London and North Eastern Railway). Plans remain for a combined East Coast/West Coast franchise during the construction, and early years, of HS1 operation. Demand is growing for a major review of HS2 to lower construction costs and a funding redistribution to high quality city public transport and other parts of the rail network.

Labour Party policy continues to favour a phased return of unified track and passenger train operation to public ownership. A contrary argument, with rising support, is greater devolution to city regions to own and manage local rail networks along with increased powers over bus services and fares. The Welsh Government has secured devolution of control of rail services and most local rail infrastructure around Cardiff where existing routes are to be improved to Metro/Light Rail standards including use of new trains able to run on overhead electric power and on batteries (LTT749 8June) Publicly-owned CalMac confirmed that it has opened discussions on submitting a bid for the ScotRail passenger rail franchise (H31May).

A Dalton of the Scotsman has welcomed the elevation of Transport to cabinet rank in the Scottish Government reshuffle also including connectivity within the transport portfolio – but he failed to understand why the former Minister had permitted a £2.4m spend on, rather than closure of, the rarely used Breich station – hardly a sensible use of funds to improve public transport quality and usage.

Greengauge 21 has produced a Beyond HS2 report arguing that a UK mainland high-speed rail network by 2050 is needed to raise productivity and put ‘rocket fuel in Britain’s economy’ While still arguing for extensions of new 225/250mph route beyond Crewe and York, there is also an emphasis on greater priority for upgrading sections of existing route to 140/150 mph including into Scotland, the London-Bristol-South Wales route, a link from the West Midlands to Wales and the south-west plus some sections of new track in other areas. In Scotland, new HSR route is proposed from Rutherglen to south of Carstairs with a spur eastwards to Breich. This is already under study by the Scottish Government but Greengauge add the further suggestion of new route from south-west of Edinburgh through Edinburgh Airport and onwards on a direct route to both Perth (for Inverness) and Dundee (for Aberdeen). London-Glasgow/Edinburgh trip times would fall to 3 hours 15 minutes with the new link through Fife and other works cutting times from Edinburgh to Perth, Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen by 30 minutes (H29May, LTT 749 8 June p 16/17, RAIL 854 6 June p14-15)

A public consultation is to be launched on a major review of rail ticketing, providing a simpler but more effective way of encouraging modal shift and retaining, rather than losing, the increasing numbers no longer travelling to work five days a week. NR has suggested that the aim should be that any changes are revenue neutral with no change in average fares and taxpayer support (H8May). Others have called for a fuller review of public transport ticketing and of charging for road use and parking to encourage modal shift from car use and lessen the burden of high fares for many below state pension age on restricted incomes.

Abellio ScoRail continues to face complaints about continuation of delays in providing the new electric trains expected to be delivered this year and also in the planned introduction of refurbished and popular High Speed diesel trains on the inter-city routes within Scotland. Other recent complaints include unacceptable reliability following signalling and power-line faults – with services west form Glasgow to Balloch and Helensburgh particularly affected but also significant disruption from power failure on the approach to Glasgow Central High Level (H9,10&11 May) Calls have also been made for an upgrade of Glasgow Central Low Level and Queen St Low Level. The ’hamster cage’ link from Finnieston rail station to SECC has been called a national disgrace (H15 May) and much work is still needed to make Edinburgh Waverley a top-quality station. NR had taken on 3 extra staff to aid disabled users of Waverley and is working on a Masterplan to cope with further large rises in passengers in the 2020s.

EGIP costs have risen from £742m to£ 868m+ but NR (Scotland) remains within the current CP5 envelope for spending – largely due to savings on Perth-Inverness improvement costs.

Work is finally under way on a major expansion of the Peter Stirling rail freight terminal at Mossend.

This will include 775m long sidings and related work is planned on provision of longer passing loops on the East and West Coast main lines to allow passenger trains to overtake freight. Some sections of route may also be quadruple-tracked (H17 May. David Spaven, Scottish representative on Rail Freight Group also argues that rail freight growth needs much improved integration with land use plans (S29May).

Peel Ports and DB Cargo UK have introduced a new rail freight service from Mossend to its enlarged container-handling facility in the Port of Liverpool. Walkers Shortbread will be one of the first users of this service for exporting Scottish goods. Return containers will handle imported goods (H17Apr)

Media criticism of ScotRail has eased after Abellio was able to hire 10 existing Class 365 electric train sets to fill the gap pending completion of the new electric Japanese train sets on order – also delayed by the need to replace curved driver windows (EN 7Jun). This will enable displaced dmus no longer required in the Scottish Central Belt to strengthen other diesel services in Scotland, including Borders Rail. Electric wiring is now complete between Glasgow Queen St and Edinburgh via Falkirk with wiring on the Shotts line and onwards from Larbert to Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa completed in 2019. A further early option could be electrification to East Kilbride. However, record Scottish temperature in June led to further rail disruption due to points failures at Glasgow Central High Level and timetable changes due to lower speeds imposed to cut the risk of track buckling.

The well-organised campaign to reopen the Levenmouth route in Fife is gaining added support. In the Borders, studies continue on a feasible strategy for road and rail corridors. Playfair Consultancy report to Starlink confirms high student usage in term time of a reopened railway to St Andrews in addition to other usage and student travel at the start and end of terms.

R Ardern of Inverness has again called for faster action to double-track most of the Perth-Inverness trunk rail route along with its inclusion in electrification programmes. On the Far North Line to Caithness, electronic signals are to be introduced for those wishing trains to stop at ‘request stops’. SAPT has welcomed this idea from Alex Hynes, ScotRail and Network Rail MD in Scotland. Punctuality on this line is now improving with plans for more trains between Inverness and Dingwall plus express services to Caithness (H5June)

Iain Gray MSP has called for action to end the problem of East Lothian being ‘back of the queue’ in plans for local rail investment. Severe overcrowding could only be ended by longer and more frequent trains. The large Blindwells housing development close to the East Coast main line and Prestonpans is likely to depend on links to a possibly relocated Prestonpans rail station though with a further station at Blindwells still a possible option in later stages of housebuilding. All North Berwick line peak trains are to have six carriages by the end of 2018. Extras car parking is being provided at Longniddry.

The rebuilt Dundee station, close to the city centre and new Victoria and Albert Museum opens on 9 July

NR has lodged plans with North Ayrshire Council for a new pedestrian bridge, including lift access to all four platforms at Kilwinning station. The main pedestrian access to Ayr Rail Station has been closed due to the deteriorating condition of the former station hotel.

BUSES, TRAMS & TAXIS

Major changes in bus services between Dumfries and Edinburgh are taking place likely due to desire for funding cutbacks in the three authorities involved, Dumfries & Galloway, Scottish Borders and SPT. Through buses will be cut to 5 per day.

In major features on threats to Glasgow city centre and in responses to the Connectivity Commission appointed by the City Council, the Herald has highlighted the need for improved public transport, revised fare structures and an improved public realm as essential for a sustainable and inclusive low-carbon city with better air quality and health – and also improving job and tourism prospects. But shopkeepers say more urgent action is needed to reduce parking charges. both long and shorter term in and around the city centre (H14&15May also H14June).

A Bus Alliance has been formed for NE Scotland, chaired by George Mair of CPT. The aim is to reverse a 35% fall in fare-paying passengers since 2009/10.

Scottish Greens are seeking a legally binding target to reverse the decline in bus use. This could be incorporated in the current Transport Bill. Main features of Bill are:-

– more flexible Bus Service Improvement Partnerships

– procedures to facilitate bus service franchising subject to Traffic Commissioner approval

– provision of more information on service usage and revenue when a service is deregistered

– proposals for an e-purse dropped due to rise in contactless ticketing – a A National Smart Ticketing Advisory Board to be set up

– wider opportunities for Local Authorities to run buses.

– new provisions for LEZs (Low Emission Zones)

– prohibition of pavement parking except in some special cases

– power to RTPs to carry forward financial reserves

– enhanced role for Roadworks Commissioner

Criticisms have included the lack of strong measures to reduce congestion delays for city buses, lack of priority for integrated smart ticketing covering all public transport in principal cities and a failure to restrict the number of bus service changes each year and to align these with rail and ferry timetable changes.

A Citizens Advice Scotland survey has found that two-thirds of Scots are unhappy with local bus services. Lothian buses has introduced a new tour bus service – Lothian Motorcoaches. It will expand services from the Edinburgh city area to points of interest in the Lothians and elsewhere in Scotland – including Loch Lomond, Stirling and St Andrews

East Coast Buses (a Lothian subsidiary) have opened a Travelshop in Musselburgh as part of a commitment to a strong high street presence – also introducing two special daily tours of East Lothian from Waverley & hourly from North Berwick. Live guides will showcase East Lothian attractions until end September.

Manchester Metrolink is moving from 18 to 4 fare zones with digital capping for contactless payments.

Both Stagecoach and Lothian Buses MD are seeking action to cut congestion as it was worsening and affecting the reliability of city bus services. Car users respond that buses themselves were the main cause of congestion and often far from full (EN20&30Jun)

In partnership with public transport operators, the organisers of the Royal Highland Show at Edinburgh Ingliston are encouraging more visitors to use public transport. Ten travel hubs have been created in central Scotland to streamline journeys for visitors to the June event.

HITRANS is seeking tenders for a 30 month lease of an electric bus for trials in rural areas.

18 people have been injured in a First Bus crash on the north approach to the Clyde Tunnel. A tourist bus (with no passengers) was destroyed by fire near Inverness.

Heritage and cycling groups are seeking modifications of the planned tram route down Leith Walk to Newhaven. They do not object to the principle of the route but others in Edinburgh have continued concerns on how the project will be funded and on the level of benefit compared to further bus network and road maintenance improvements.

Calls have been made for a review of policy to allow small scooters on Lothian Buses. These scooters are smaller than wheelchairs and the national CPT Code of Conduct permits their use on buses yet this is not observed by all operators.

Hearings at Edinburgh Tram Inquiry have ended and have cost £9m. Tram costs at £776m were double the original estimate with serious shortcomings revealed in procedures.

Edinburgh trams had an operating surplus of £1.6m in 2017, five times higher than the previous estimate Revenue rose 24% with passenger trips up 19% to 6.6m. New higher frequency timetable had helped increase trips with it also proving possible to cut Airport-city centre times to 35 minutes.

Bristol and other English areas are experimental with taxi-type feeders to and from conventional bus services plus further innovations for the ‘first’ and ‘last’ mile of trips

Edinburgh City Council has refused permission for electric tricycle trips in the city for up to 2 passengers due to a failure to meet standard conditions, including 4 wheels, windows and at least 4 seats (EN 30May)

UK government is bringing forward by a year a vehicle excise tax exemption for electric taxis.   Edinburgh taxi fares rose up to 6% in mid-June

ROADS & PARKING

A new Joint Roads Committee has been set up by the 7 Local Authorities north from Argyll and Angus to the NE, Highlands and Western Isles

Design of Queensferry Crossing has allowed it to stay open on 14 days when high winds would have closed the previous bridge but traffic delays are arising because the bridge only has 2 lanes in each direction. Calls have been made for cars to be allowed to use the previous bridge (EN13Jun).

The Bishopbriggs Relief Road has opened after substantial delays

Strong complaints continue about the high cost and dangers of low levels of road maintenance. Potholes remain a major problem, especially on non-trunk roads. MSPs have called for £100m to be spent on better maintenance, with more full carriageway resurfacing rather than on potholes.

Learner drivers can now use motorways. Police Scotland is proposing written warnings for motorists exceeding 20 and 30 mph limits with these removed from records in 3 months if no further offences arise

Road deaths have fallen to a new low after rising in recent years. Deaths were 146 in 2017, down from 191 in 2016. Total casualties were down 14% and serious injuries down 7%

Petrol prices are at a three and a half year high and now average £1.24 a litre says AA but there are hints that the seven year freeze on fuel taxes may end later this year.

Edinburgh should finalise its first LEZ in 2019. The pavement parking ban proposed in the Scottish Transport Bill is welcomed but with fears that there may be too many exemptions. Complaints are already rising on increasing difficulties in finding parking space and also over rising charges for parking and the limited size of parking spaces for the larger and longer personal transit vehicles now in use. EN feature by Christine Graham SNPMSP objects to introduction of workplace parking levies on firms providing parking space (EN 7 June)

Midlothian is to follow other Councils in taking on decriminalised parking powers following further police cuts in this area of work.

Visitors viewing the Harry Potter viaduct at Glenfinnan are causing parking chaos. Annual visitors total 330,000 and initial action may the imposition of a lower speed limit on the main road (H26Jun) Visitor parking in now a major problem at Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum despite a £1 parking charge. ‘Rising prices are forcing children back indoors to their tablets’ (H31May)

Angry residents are calling for Edinburgh City Council to stop commuter parking clogging up streets throughout the capital.

CYCLING & WALKING

Walking/cycling taskforce chaired by Roy Brannen, TS Chief Executive, has urged wider support for improvements from other departments of government, including, health, environment and education – higher priority should go to continuous route networks

Pedestrians are concerned about rising use of pavements by cyclists and by increasing numbers of mobility scooters. Greater clarity is needed on which pavements are totally reserved for pedestrians and mobility scooters, which may allow some shared use by walkers and cyclists at low speeds and which routes are reserved for cyclists – including electro-bikes

Cyclists report that potholes and poor cycle lane maintenance are stopping more people cycling 1June)

SERCO is to start an Edinburgh cycle hire scheme in September with 500 bikes, possibly rising to 2000. SPOKES fears that Edinburgh cycling is reaching a plateau unless spending on cycling infrastructure schemes is increased. Outline proposals on space for walkers and cyclists as part of tram extension to Leith and Newhaven are seen as needing major revision.

Sustrans is reviewing the National Cycling Network, including routes in Scotland, with a report by September 2018. Humza Yousaf announced a doubling of the Community Links Fund to £36m on 8 May to help fund more walking and cycling projects. 1.3m is also to be available to encourage more Scots to use electric bikes.

A Transform Scotland report proposes a network of ‘off-road’ cycle paths across the Highlands to ease ever-increasing visitor tourist pressure on routes such as North Coast 500 (H25June). ScotRail Alliance is spending £400,000 to improve access by cyclists and related facilities at rail stations including better signage. Using helicopters, repair work is underway on a £200,000 project to restore the Suilven nountain path.

A £840,000 replacement foot/cycle bridge across the River Carron has been completed.

Street designers in both Edinburgh (Picardy Place) and Glasgow (Byres Rd) have been criticised for preferences for motor vehicles worsening conditions for walking and cycling. Bob Downie of Glasgow stresses the need for transport models favouring walking and cycling over motorised traffic – essential for improved environmental and air quality/better health (H30May, 5 June)

The Mound and part of Hanover St in Edinburgh went car-free on the morning of 21 June as part of Clean Air Day. Edinburgh is to have more play streets with motor traffic excluded at set times

PROPERTY & PLANNING

Early 2019 should see a draft version of the new NTS (National Transport Strategy for Scotland) with a finalised version published Summer 2019. Consultations start this autumn on the revised NPF (National Planning Framework) with a consultation draft to follow in spring 2019 and a revised version going to the Scottish Parliament and approval with publication late 2020.

Work on option development as part of STPR (Strategic Transport Projects Review) will start early 2019 and run into 2020 with consultation on a draft STPR starting in 2020 and a finalised version by late 2020. This will consider major projects deliverable over 20 years.

Some initial comments have urged integration of the NTS and NPF in association with options for using this to review how changes existing fiscal, pricing and regulatory frameworks might ensure better alignment with overall government objectives for the economy and society. On timescales, there is a case for sharper delineation of what is considered deliverable by 2025, by 2032 and with looser options (though some land safeguards) to 2040. Clarity is also needed on a favoured scenario for desirable future levels of movement, modal share and access – with provision for revision every five years.

Report from National Taskforce set up by Humza Yousaf in 2016 urges ‘behaviour change programmes’ to end the ‘car is king’ culture still found in cities and instead ‘put people first and make cars feel like guests’. Proposals include LEZs and a shift of urban road space towards buses, walking and cycling. AA warns that plans could have a negative impact on jobs and the economy of high streets – shops very dependent on road freight. The report urges consideration of road user charges and/or workplace parking levies (H18 June) but Glasgow Council is opposed to congestion charging). It is expanding planning staff to help deliver major investment projects, and a new urban quarter on the Clyde waterfront in Tradeston including large offices (H15 June)

Work is about to start on the £50m new stadium for Aberdeen Football Club close to the new Western Peripheral Route but Aberdeen City and County are planning to restrict development close to junctions and deflecting new housing away from Westhill and other areas beyond the Peripheral Route

‘Over-tourism’ in Skye has led to some spread of tourism growth to other islands though CalMac has warned of the problem of an ageing fleet and the need for new orders (H 30 June).

Scottish Government has overturned Edinburgh City Council decision to reject 1400 new homes in West Craigs area close to Edinburgh Gateway Interchange and tram route. Pressure continues for improved cycling plans for access to and from the area. Further growth in housing is anticipated in the David Murray ‘Garden District’ south from Edinburgh Gateway now considered more likely to gain planning approval (EN 7 May).

See also first report of Glasgow Connectivity Commission seeking major changes in transport, land use and access planning to further encourage city revival and an attractive city centre environment with rises in local rail and bus use and in cycling and walking (H 14 June)

High Streets are facing falling incomes but WH Smith says retail income from rail and airports is rising. North Coast 500 popularity is pricing locals out of the property market and making it harder to recruit catering workers

RESEARCH & STATISTICS

ORR report the first fall in rail passengers in Britain in 2017-18 since 2009/10. Sharp falls in season tickets reported, especially in south-east England. Inter-city and regional trips outside London continue to rise – by 3.5m (3.8%) in Scotland to 97.8m compared to 74.2m in 07/08

Edinburgh Airport had its busiest ever April with 1.2m passengers, up 5.7% with numbers also up 7.4% to 1.32m in May (domestic up 2.9% and international 10.1%) Loganair reports busiest ever month on Stornoway route in May with 11,753 passengers.

HIAL report a 7% rise in airport passengers to 1.8m aided by an 18% rise at Sumburgh to 419,448 passengers. Dundee had a further fall to 22th passengers in 2017/18 with Wick the only other HIAL airport to experience a fall.

Scotland’s population has risen for the 8th successive year and is now 5.42m aided by 23,900 of net immigration. Deaths exceeded births by 3,800

Official data shows a £65m annual boost to the Outer Hebrides from rising tourism (H18June)

The University of the Highlands & Islands is to support a postgraduate place on the North Coast 500 touring route, especially on historical aspects of the area.

Historic sites in Scotland saw a 17% rise in footfall to just over 5m visits in 2017-18 with some sites, like Doune Castle, especially affected by the ‘Outlander’ impact. Sterling weakness was a contributing factor, bringing more overseas visitors but also more visits by Scots to Scottish sites

Scotland has met its annual climate change target for the third successive year. Carbon emissions 45.2% down on 1990 but the aim is a 90% cut by 2050. Progress in the transport sector still poor.

A Sustrans survey in Edinburgh shows that 7 in 10 women have never used a bike for local trips. Yet both men and women over 55 are buying more bikes cycling for pleasure or to stay fit.

Sustrans Scotland reports those cycling to school up from 2.8% in 2010 to 3.7% in 2017. Rise is greatest among secondary school pupils. A survey in Edinburgh finds that 53% of cyclists ‘feel unsafe’ – a 6% rise on the previous total (EN 10 May)

Partly due to higher fuel prices but also affected by changing lifestyle preferences,11% of 18-24 group are cutting back on car use with 23% cutting back in other areas so that cars could still be used to access work.

Due to car air conditioning, children driven to school experience more pollution than those walking though it is also helpful for those walking or cycling to use quieter roads (H21June)

DfT data over period since 2012 shows that speeding was the second most important factor in road casualties with Scotland slightly above the average. A Direct Line Insurance survey found that half of drivers find breaking the speed limit acceptable but not by more than 12%

Autonomous vehicles are likely to weaken the case for roundabouts (LTT 750 22 June p12)

The Glasgow Connectivity Commission, chaired by Davig Begg, gave a preliminary report in June – highlighting the need for Glasgow to have high-quality public transport and an attractive city centre environment for cycling and walking, including LEZs extended to all vehicles by December 2022. Safe and attractive cycle networks need to extend well beyond the city centre. A new study of access options for Glasgow Airport, costing £500,000 over 6 months, will include future plans for Glasgow Central and the west of Scotland rail network. Final Connectivity report is due in December (LTT 750 22 June p17)

Transport Scotland has appointed Arup to study improved line speeds between Rutherglen and Carstairs and also between Newcastle and Dunbar (LTT 744 30 March p 19)

BUSINESS & PERSONEL

Commission on Travel Demand, based at Leeds University under Prof Greg Marsden has secured a further five years of funding

Stagecoach has seen profits tumble after large losses on the East Coast rail franchise, now given up to temporary public operation as LNER. Dividends cut from 11.9p to 7.7p. Bus operations remain robust in UK and North America with revenue down less than 0.5%

First Bus reports a rise in UK bus profits from £37 to £50m but this remains below previous levels with sharp fall in returns from US bus operations. Rail results also poorer than expected with increasing losses expected on TPE franchise as growth in usage and income is below predictions. Tim O’Toole has stood down as Chief Executive.

Loganair reports an end of 17 years of profits with a £9m loss, largely due to the collapse of its co-operation with Flybe and resulting competition

Skyscanner is adding rail fare comparisons to allow users to link these with flight, hotel and car hire options

Aberdeen Harbour Board raised profits 50% to £27m in 2017, aided by a £10.9m land disposal. Proceeds will help fund the £350m harbour extension in Nigg Bay.

Lothian Buses named Scotland’s Public Transport Operator of the Year at the 2018 Awards.

In a Scottish Government reshuffle, Finance Minister Derek Mackay also acquires responsibility for the Economy. Transport Minister Humsa Yousaf moves to be Justice Minister with former Minister Michael Matheson moving to a Transport Ministry raised to Cabinet rank and including Connectivity. Mairi Gougeon becomes Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment.

Steve Dunlop. Chief Executive, Scottish Canals, is moving to be Scottish Enterprise CE. David Liston is new Stagecoach North of Scotland MD, replacing Mark Whitelocks moving to be MD for Cumbria/North Lancs.

Glasgow Airport’s Operations Director Mark Johnston is to be the new MD

ScotRail has appointed Syeda Ghufran as its first female Engineering Director

Stephen Plowden has died aged 85 – a longstanding advocate for less motorised traffic, air travel reductions and environments more suited to walking and cycling. His ground-breaking work was Towns against Traffic (1972).