Tom Hart’s transport news, 1 October to 31 December 2018Published 31 December 2018 by Transform Scotland
Tom Hart of Scottish Association for Public Transport (SAPT) gives his quarterly commentary on Scottish transport issues:
MAIN ISSUES International Conferences have again highlighted the need for faster action to keep rises in global temperatures below 1.5C by 2030 and moving on to zero emissions in order to avoid major habitat change and severe adverse changes in climate and sea levels (H8 & 19 Oct&20Nov) World CO2 emissions will rise an estimated 2.7% in 2018 though still below the record high in 2013. To cut growth in global temperatures, concerted action is needed to ensure large cuts in emissions. Most recent growth has been in industry and in road and air transport. It is proving difficult to achieve agreement on measures requiring to be adopted (H6Dec). With more wind and water power and other energy conservation measures, Scotland is better placed to deliver C02 cuts in wider programmes for a stronger and inclusive economy but failure to make progress in other countries could increase international tensions and undesirable trading practices. Transport remains a sector where carbon emissions are still rising. A new and positive feature is growing evidence that, rather than high population growth, the global population is stabilising around 2.1 births per mother. Scottish Greens are pressing for a target of ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2040 compared to current Scottish Government plans for a 90% cut by 2050 (H6Dec)
BREXIT uncertainties remain a major issue and divert attention from funding, regulatory and fiscal changes required to accelerate improvement in the global and local environments. The UK budget has been criticised for a continuing 10 year freeze (meaning a real cut) in taxation on carbon-based road fuels while again increasing regulated rail fares in line with inflation and tolerating large rises in bus fares. The Scottish budget in December had a strong focus on extra spending on health and education with a further real cut in sums allocated to local government spending Attention is turning to innovations such as variable road pricing, lower and integrated rail and bus fares along with workplace parking charges, earmarked tourist and property levies but progress towards change is slow. \it is claimed that these changes are eroding progress towards local democracy and involvement (H13Dec)
Emirates is cutting back the new daily Edinburgh-Dubai service to 5 days a week due to low usage but is to introduce the larger A380 on Glasgow-Dubai service from April to October 2019. Next summer, Delta Airlines is to start Edinburgh-Boston flights while Ryanair is adding 2 more routes to its existing 56 routes from Edinburgh. Loganair is adding four more routes from Edinburgh –to Islay, Guernsey Bergen and Stavanger and is also starting daily flights from Glasgow to Dusseldorf on 31 March. Major Scottish airports continue to seek a halving of ADT to aid their growth and put them on a par with already exempt Inverness
Major drone-related disruption at Gatwick Airport before Christmas has led to calls for close supervision of drone operations close to airports, The exclusion zone may rise above the present 1 km (H22Dec).
Ryanair has introduced charges for small suitcases. Jet 2 is set to create 130 jobs at Edinburgh Airport but Flybe, with the second-largest number of flights from Edinburgh, claims level of service provided by the airport is ‘appalling’ with a tendency to favour large planes. Seeking to cut congestion, Edinburgh Airport has raised drop off-charges to £2 for five minutes and £4 for 10 minutes
Just months after cutting flights from Glasgow from 23 to 3, Ryanair is to re-introduce 4 routes for summer 2019 – to Alicante, Malaga, Charleroi and Warsaw Government-owned Prestwick Airport has been accused of failing to pay the living wage to some employees
Argyll & Bute Council is seeking an Oban- Glasgow/Central-Scotland air service as part of a wider growth deal.
FERRIES & SHIPPING
CalMac see ‘huge benefits’ in fewer tourists taking cars -and making more use of island buses (LTT 26 Oct p9) Scottish Government is to review the working of RET (Road Equivalent Tariff)
P&O faces a major compensation claim and review of procedures after 6 lorries overturned in severe weather on a Larne-Cairnryan crossing. There is speculation that problems at Dover after Brexit may strengthen the case for return of a direct ferry service from Scotland to the Continent.
Scottish Government has awarded around £80,000 to Northlink Ferries to improve ferry conditions for autistic and others with disabilities through an information app.
Pinstripe has attached the financial fiasco of government-owned CalMac and a similar problem at Prestwick Airport (H8Oct) Breakdowns continue to affect the German-built Loch Seaforth on the Stornoway route and unacceptable cuts in winter Oban-Mull services. Data shows a significant rise in ferry delays and cancellations since start of 2018 (H31Oct) CalMac has won the contract to operate Perth Harbour.
Ferguson Marine of Port Glasgow has rising funding problems and is seeking compensation from the Scottish Government for 50% to 60% cost over-runs on two ferries, including the new ferry for Arran. Port of Cromarty Firth is gaining both from cruise traffic, oil field decommissioning and sea -wind turbine development. £30m of further investment is planned. Port of Montrose has announced a £5.4m investment plan while Scottish Enterprise has approved £10m towards a £30m Peel Ports redevelopment at Hunterston aimed at oil decommissioning and sea-turbine opportunities.
Stornoway Port Authority has announced a £66m 20-year plan for improvements including marina and cruise ship development as well as other facilities (H21Dec) At Ardrossan, stronger and more frequent storms are affecting ferry terminal, traditionally protected from western winds but less able to cope with increasing wind from the north and south
Following refusal of a Heritage Lottery Grant, Scottish Government has confirmed a £950.000 grant to assist the return of the Loch Lomond ‘Maid of the Loch’ to active service (H8Dec)
A fifth lifting canal bridge has broken down between Bowling and Edinburgh with little funding available for repairs – though it is hoped to have all repaired during 2019. In South Queensferry, there are complaints about large numbers from cruise ships using small vessels to reach the town to join coach tours and using the historic High St. Suggestions have again been made for waterbuses on the Clyde in Glasgow.
New Rail Review White Paper is expected in Autumn 2019 with Keith Williams, chair of the review, inviting submissions by 18 January. ORR has approved £34.7bn for Network Rail Spending in CP6 2019/20 to 2023/24. This includes ££3.67 bn for Scotland, exclusive of most spend on enhancements which have to be separately funded (LTT9Nov 760 p15)
Serious cost over-runs are delaying full opening of London Crossrail 1 until 2020 and have also led to calls for changes in Phase 1 a 2a of HS2 with decisions on Phase 2b (new line from Birmingham to Leeds/York and new line north of Crewe (including a tunnel approach to central Manchester) delayed. Also suggested that cost savings could be delivered by lower maximum speeds (to 320kmph/200mph) – or less in some tunnels – plus lesser expenditure on terminal station expansion (LTT62 14Dec p8 &33; LTT761 23 Nov p 21)
To cut costs, HS2 speeds may be cut from 250mph to 200mph (or less in some tunnels) with frequency reduced from 18 to 14 trains per hour (RAIL867 5Dec`p8-9)
At a seminar in Glasgow on 15 November, Jim Steer of Greengauge21 stressed the importance of cutting Central Scotland to Inverness and Aberdeen times to well below car times by construction of a short link from the Livingstone South line through Edinburgh Airport with an onward high-speed link close to M90 through Fife and a new spur from this over the Tay to give access to Dundee (RAIL867 5Dec p15) This echoes a proposal first made in the 1999 publication on Scenarios for a Sustainable Scotland 2000-2020 but Network Rail Scotland’s preference has been for an initial phase including a Dunfermline Bypass and upgrades of existing line through Fife
LNER (London-Edinburgh) has introduced sensors to show where spare seats are available. New Caledonian Sleeper trains have still to be introduced but queries have been made about usage since London-Inverness sleepers can now cost almost four times more than flying.
New Transport Scotland forecasts for Scotland to 2037 suggest continuation of the more rapid growth in rail passenger miles seen since 2000. 42% growth is projected between 2014 and 2037 though refinements as part of the New National Transport Strategy may lead to even higher growth
Spanish train maker Talgo has opted for a new factory on the former electric power station site at Longannet but development is conditional on gaining firm orders for new trains (H15Nov)
Trade unions continue to press for nationalisation of ScotRail services but others point out that most rail infrastructure in Scotland is already publicly owned as part of Network Rail with funding and governance issues making it unlikely that full nationalisation would lead to improvements. Another option is to allow ScotRail (or a mix of local government and Transport Scotland) to own rather than hire train-sets (H11Oct)
The Abellio ScotRail franchise is under severe criticism for deteriorating train performance, made worse by late delivery of trains and the need for staff training, but with at least 50% of deficiencies attributable to Network Rail problems in ensuring a higher quality of track & signalling maintenance along with timely completion of infrastructure improvements. Information on delays and alternative services needs much improvement. Overcrowding has been eased by obtaining alternative electric trains but full delivery of new stock is expected during 2019. All Edinburgh-Glasgow via Falkirk services are now electric, including a new half-hourly service from Glasgow via Gartcosh and Cumbernauld to Falkirk and Edinburgh – faster services are also available from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Stirling (H14,28,30Nov, 16Oct)
Many train cancellations had to be made across central Scotland following introduction of more frequent services in the scheduled December timetable change. It may have been better to introduce this timetable in January, giving more time for further new trains (already behind schedule) to be delivered and staff suitably trained. Union pressure to strip Abellio of its franchisee is not seen as a realistic way to immediate improvements (H18,19&21Dec) But public displeasure was increased by disclosure of a substantial pay award to Alex Hynes of the Network Rail/ScotRail alliance (H22Dec)
Costs for the central Scotland rail electrification (EGIP) have shown a further rise from £858 to £870m on the original figure of £742m. ScotRail is using GPS technology to improve information on train delays.
Normal services from Glasgow to Ayr and Girvan were fully restored in late December following the disruption since September arising from the dangerous condition of the disused Ayr Station Hotel (H20Dec)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is seeking power to bring Network Rail in Scotland and rail passenger services under Scottish Government control (H21Dec) In addition to the extension of electrification to Dunblane and Alloa in December 2018, work is well advanced on the introduction of electric trains on the Shotts line in 2019. Scottish Government has paid £23m (normally due to April 2019) to ScotRail to ease current financial problems. Pre-tax ScotRail loss rose from £2.6m in 2016 to £17.9m in 2017 (H15Nov)
Calls have been to keep teams working on orderly extensions of electrification, including to East Kilbride, Kilmarnock, over the St Enoch Bridge in Glasgow and the South Suburban line in Edinburgh and in stages onwards to Perth and from the Central Belt to Inverness and Aberdeen.
In response to complaints that rail passengers are paying more for poorer services, Scottish Government has capped rise in regulated peak fares to RPI at 3.1% with but regulated off-peak fares rising by RPI -1%
Refurbished high-speed Inter-City diesel-hauled trains are now being introduced between the Central Belt and Aberdeen/Inverness and also on the Aberdeen-Inverness route. Trade unions have criticised the use of 40 year old trains but passengers find the refurbished HST trains more comfortable than the present diesel multiple unit services. Expected to last 10 years, they are likely to be replaced by early 2030s by new trains operating on a combination of overhead wires and battery power (H10Oct).
Experiments are being made with both battery and hydrogen power with more routes expected to shift to a mix of overhead electric and battery electric power. Battery powered trains may soon be able to travel at least 40 miles without having to re-charge.
Surveys indicate that rail passenger overcrowding is most severe on some Edinburgh-Perth, Glasgow-Neilston and Edinburgh-North Berwick services overcrowding. Poor performance remains a major issue of the Milngavie line with 3 in 4 trains running late or cancelled. The Helensburgh route is also affected
There has been adverse public reaction to the ScotRail decision to retain free travel for children under 5 to travel free with an adult but impose a £1 charge for those between 5 and 15 (H4Dec) ScotRail faces a penalty for the slow take-up of smartcard ticketing – aim is 60% of trips to be by smartcard by April, 2019.
CPT Scotland say smartcards are obsolescent – way forward is contactless ticketing.
Sunday services are showing strong growth with the Mallaig line also moving to all year Sunday trains in 2019. Class 153 single coaches have been refurbished to provide longer trains on some tourist/leisure routes, with a mix of extra seats and space for cycles and sports equipment. The West Highland Line (Glasgow-Mallaig) ranked second in a list of the 6 best rail trips in the world (H5Dec)
The IBM station in Greenock closed on 9 December due to collapse of employment on site adjacent to station. Writing to the Herald, two people have suggested that, rather than reopen the Leuchars-St Andrews line, it would be better to improve the present bus link to St Andrews with full integration of bus/rail fares. However, the Levenmouth Rail Campaign has criticised the Scottish Transport Minister decision to spend almost £2n on refurbishing the little used Breich station on the Shotts line while delaying action on a reopened line to Levenmouth with substantial extra housing proposed close to the terminus.
Consultants to Aberdeen City Council question viability of £70m rail connection to Airport (Rail866 21Nov)
Despite spending £6m on improve seawall at Saltcoats on the rail line to Ardrossan and Largs, there is still considerable disruption of rail services at high tide and high wind times. Other options may have to be considered in coming years (ASH 5Dec) There are similar problems near Cardross on the Helensburgh line.
With many new trains already delivered or due by April next year, train maintenance requirements have reduced with Gemini Rail Services in Springburn planning to close their heavy maintenance facility at St Rollox. This area was once a major centre for rail locomotive building and it has been suggested that it could become a future rail museum, releasing space at the Glasgow Riverside Transport Museum for the rail locomotives presently on display there in crowded conditions (H13,15 &21Dec)
Financial problems and the need for major repairs to supporting pillars has forced the Cairngorm Mountain Railway into administration. Services, carrying 300,000 a year, ended in October. HIE remains owner of the railway (which operated under lease) and is considering what may now be done (H30Nov).
Formal transfer to Transport for Wales of the Valley Lines from Cardiff to Transport for Wales is expected in September 2019. Similar opportunities may arise around Glasgow.
ORR has launched a consultation on how the railway can improve the service offered to disabled and other passengers who require assistance – including clarification of what scooters and mobility aids are permitted on trains. Responses by18 January with revised ORR guidance published spring 2019 (RAIL866 21 Nov p10)
The excellent rail safety record has left a difficult problem – accidents arising from the uneven interface between platform and train. Suggests that best way forward on most route would be to raise platform heights to 915mm with rolling stock floors 1100mm above track (with a step into trains being safer than a level but fairly wide entry from platform) However, where only one type of train operates (as proposed for HS2) and platforms are straight, level access is becoming possible from platforms to and from trains. Light rail systems already offer level access (RAIL866 21Nov p34-35) New trains for Merseyrail will have ‘sliding step’ technology easing platform/train entry & exit (RAIL865 7 Nov p21)
BUS, TRAM & TAXI
Transport Scotland modelled Transport Forecasts to 2037, published in November, indicate a continuing fall in both urban and inter-urban bus passenger miles to 2037 despite an estimated 6.5% rise in population since 2014. This contrasts with both actual continued growth in and around Edinburgh and the case made in the first Glasgow Connectivity Commission Report, also in November and chaired by David Begg, for a return to regular annual growth in Glasgow bus use , encouraged by major shifts in policy and funding aiding the mergence of a sustainable, inclusive and attractive city with reduced car use and parking, notably in the city centre and accompanied by substantial population and employment growth in the city. Revised forecasts and strategies are expected to emerge from ongoing government consultation on future strategy for transport, land uses and pricing. Glasgow Chamber of Commerce is a strong supporter of the CC report provided that substantial short-stay car parking remains available on the immediate fringe of a city-centre car and bus traffic reduced zone. The report stresses the need for improved air quality and improved conditions for walking and cycling with public transport becoming more frequent and attractively priced as well as moving away from diesel buses. The CC suggests workplace parking levies and possible congestion charging as part of wider shifts away from diesel and petrol fuel duties to new forms of road user charging.
Glasgow became the first city in Scotland to introduce a low emission zone, initially applying only to buses and with phasing to reduce the costs of bus operators changing to low or zero emission buses. Calls have been made for more ambitious targets and early extension to cover cars and vans (H31Dec)
Scottish Government ‘Managed Motorway’ Study is looking at options to reserve a running lane or hard shoulders for buses- managed motorway principles already apply on 13.7mile approach to Edinburgh from Fife and are being considered for western part of M8 in Glasgow (LTT759 26Oct p9) Stagecoach have suggested that buses have sole to outside motorway lanes around Glasgow (LTT761 23Nov p11)Tram trains started operation on one route in Sheffield, six year after the trial project started and with costs rising from £15m to £75n. This overrun almost led to cancellation of the project but may offer valuable lessons for future schemes in other cities (RAIL865 7Nov p12 & 13)
Work has started on £5.9 m of repairs to main expansion joints of the Forth Road Bridge, now restricted to bus, cycle and pedestrian use (EN26 Oct)
Belfast reports high demand for the new Glider bus services – already used by over 30,000 a week with more buses being laid on to meet demand (LTT7590 26Octp5)
McGill’s Bus Service has ordered 6 Enviro200 single deck buses from Alexander Dennis of Falkirk for delivery by March 2019 but is also seeking radical change in transport policy as profits fell from over £2m to £384,00 in past year. The fall is attributed to worsening road congestion, roadworks disruption, cheap car parking and falling high street footfall. McGills is confident of a return to bus growth if these issues are tackled with urgency (H50ct & 22Nov)
Scottish Government has released £1.1m of funding to assist smaller bus operators to adapt to contactless fares but it is also argued that greater gains could come from higher charged for parking linked with a substantial expansion of simple zonal fares (available on bus and rail) available in, and between,, cities and larger towns – including integrated governance in ad around larger cities (H1&2Oct) Car users seek much clearer signage of bus gates rather than seeking to use these as a source of funding.
Calls have been made for fuller use of existing and abandoned Glasgow rail tunnels to improve public transport travel opportunities. Glasgow Subway already served part of the city westward but the East End had been neglected. There are improving prospects for a Metro system linking well with buses (H11Oct).
The bill for the Edinburgh Tram Inquiry is now over £10m. Plans for an extension to Leith are still attracting criticism but there is increasing pressure the cut the number of buses on Princes St while increasing space for cyclists and pedestrians, cutting delays at major pedestrian crossing points. Some local buses (and coaches) may be diverted to alternative routes or to easy interchange points east and west of Princes St coupled with a higher tram frequency.
Asked what his biggest bugbear was, Hugh Macleod, owner of Dunvegan Castle, says it is the lack of integrated public transport in the Highlands – also an airport on Skye (H19Oct)
City chiefs have agreed a 10% rise in taxi fares after usage of city taxi ranks has halved since 2006. In Ayrshire, taxi drivers are seeking access to the bus lane on east side of Stevenston. This has been refused due to adverse impacts on buses and on car users annoyed by any favourable treatment of taxis. Uber as a company is flourishing but workers for it remain concerned about a 3-year delay in giving those working as Uber drivers more rights.
Little’s, the Glasgow based chauffeur firm, reports a record financial year and £320,00 to be spent on eight hybrid vehicles. 50% of vehicles are already electric or hybrid.
As a UK pilot scheme, Stagecoach is to receive £4.35m from a £25m UK government scheme to encourage driverless technology in Britain (two other schemes are in London). 5 driverless single deck buses with 42 seat capacity will operate a 20 minute frequency on the 14 mile route from Ferry Toll in Fife to Edinburgh Park rail and tram interchange. Operation should start in 2021 (H & EN 23Nov)
Plans to revitalise Aberdeen City Centre include proposals for a gondola cable car route from Nigg Bay through the city centre to the beach. This could become an icon like the V&A museum in Dundee (H13Nov)
ROADS & PARKING
The further freeze on road fuel duty in the UK Budget has led to increased pressure for the introduction of differential road pricing – to improve transport efficiency and reduced the drain on public funds.
Progress is being made on provision of electric road vehicle charging points but it is unclear how far electric motorists will shift to off-peak charging times and other impacts on electricity supply. Arnold Clark have a new deal – providing a car, a home charger and a green energy tariff (H5Nov) Edinburgh City Council is planning to spend 33,3m on 200 electric charging points across the city by 2023 (EN2Oct.) Top engineer Guy Jefferson has queried whether enough work is being done to ensure the required supply of electricity.
Queensferry Crossing design has ensured a large fall in the number of days when high winds lead to traffic closure (H29Dec) The vast majority of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road opened before Christmas following agreement with contractors after Carillion collapse. 4.5miles (including Don Bridge) still to open.
TS is consulting on A96 dualling between Huntly and Kintore but NESTRANS also argues that more improvements are required on the existing dualling south of Kintore
Though still calling for more road investment, Graeme McCormick has rejected claims that the Scottish road network is worse then in England. Relative to a population 10 times higher, the English road network is in a worse state than the Scottish equivalent (H28 Nov). A82 north from Tarbert towards Fort William is still in need of significant improvement while arguments continue on how best to improve the landslide stricken A83 west from Tarbert to Inveraray. Others also see a strong case for extra capacity on the M8 (including west from Glasgow) and on the Edinburgh Bypass.
RAC report shows condition of British roads is worsening with over 512,000 potholes reported in past year with rising repair costs and less safe conditions for road users.
Major complaints continue on the quality and cost of road maintenance – including small scale spend on maintaining white lines, signposting and cats’ eyes in good condition – signs also often obscured by overhanging vegetation. Edinburgh City attacked for underspend on road maintenance budget. Scottish Conservatives want all extra spend coming to Scotland as a result of higher road spend south of Border must be spent on road maintenance
Health experts have backed plans for 20mph speed limits in towns and cities. More towns and villages in Fife are to have 20mph limits. Such limits can reverse the recent rise in pedestrian deaths and serious cycling injuries in urban areas (H30Sept)
Tourist chiefs expect gains from increased branding of the Snow Road from Blairgowrie to Speyside via Deeside while a survey of 5000 drivers reveals that the most scenic car touring route in Britain is the A82 from Loch Lomond to Glencoe(H27&24Nov) £900,000 has been secured for enlarged car parking and better toilets at Glenfinnan and Morar and also at Blaven and Old Man of Storr in Skye (H6&13Oct)
GoCompare has compared a list of t he 10 least used picturesque roads in UK. Scottish routes include:-
A838Laxford Bridge to Tongue (average 96 vehicles a day)
A821 Aberfoyle to via Dukes Pass to Trossachs
Even in Skye some routes average under 1,500 cars per day. There is ample room for further growth in car-based tourism and related gains for local economies (H18Dec)
In Orkney, 1 in 50 drivers now drive electric compared to 1 in 500 in Moray (H20Dec)
Climbers in the Arrochar Alps are objecting to Argyll & Bute Council plans to raise parking charges at Arrochar from 30p to £1 an hour
UK government is seeking to ensure that city centre deliveries by vans and lorries are by electric vehicles
Pinstripe has called for a large boost to road investment – to aid the economy and spread investment away from HS2 and from road and rail investments in cities and from a third Heathrow runway. A83 required a tunnel solution at Rest and be Thankful in Argyll. Dumfries and Galloway would also benefit immensely from a motorway through the area linking with a bridge to Ireland. Any such scheme would be ‘economically transformational (H10Dec), On 12 Dec, Herald letter from Chair of the Cowal Fixed Link Working Group said main initial need was for a fixed links across Clyde to Cowal (road but possibly rail) as first stage of a link via Kintyre and a tunnel to Northern Ireland, giving a high-speed rail service from Glasgow to Belfast in 80 minutes with Dublin reached in a further 30 minutes – and much better than a crossing from Portpatrick (No appraisal of these proposals has been made but it is very doubtful if benefits would be close to costs. The argument contrasts with opposing views that the benefits of large infrastructure projects are often exaggerated compared to some shift towards rail schemes, better road maintenance and regulatory reforms encouraging shifts to low carbon, lower fares, better city transit and reducing levels of road traffic)
CYCLING & WALKING
Survey of almost 500,00 pupils in Scotland shows 42% walk to school. Scottish Government aim is to increase this number and encourage more to walk in groups including an adult. To reduce clutter and ease pedestrian flow, Edinburgh has banned A boards on pavements. Some see this as too extreme a measure. People walking with mobiles can be a greater hazard to others than Advertising Boards. Areas where both walking and cycling are permitted are being extended but there are concerns that some pavements (traditionally for walkers) should remain reserved for walking (and wheelchairs-low speed mobility scooters) with much less intrusion from vehicle parking (the Scottish Transport Bill proposes a ban on pavement parking but with what are arguably too many exemptions)
Feedback on Edinburgh City Centre Transformation includes support for pedestrian priorities in streets with restrictions on through motorised traffic, widened pavements and improved public spaces. This has produced major debates on the future nature of George St as well as Princes St. Similar calls are in the first report of the Glasgow Connectivity Commission.
Tram plans for Leith Walk have been changed to include segregated cycle lanes throughout. There is rapidly rising support for e-bikes (including some cargo bikes). E-bikers use 20% less energy per mile than normal bikes – they are also being used for longer trips (SPOKES October Factsheet)
More than a quarter of road accidents last year involved a cyclist or motorcyclist. Bike Smart has launched an initiative to improve bike rider safety. A 3km £1.4m ‘active travel’ route has opened in SE Edinburgh though with requests that a similar route should be created for SW Edinburgh. Pressure is rising for high quality cycling networks rather than individual schemes. Pedicabs are also expanding in Edinburgh and are expected to gain access to the Meadows cycle route in 2019.
In a £470,000 scheme Scottish Government is funding 230 e-bikes, most of which will be available for hire and concentrated in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Just Eat Cycling app is facilitating cycle use in Edinburgh. A £90 membership fee facilitates cheap hire for periods as low as 1 hour. Edinburgh is to introduce 128 secure cycle storage units but leases will cost £84 a year, more than annual car parking permits city fringe.
Sustrans is seeking to improve the quality and double the traffic-free length of the UK National Cycle Network from 5,000 to 10,000 miles by 2040 – including a reduction in on-road sections. Estimated cost is £2.8bn. In 2017, network had 377m cycle trips and 410m walking trips (LTT761 232Nov p17)
PROPERTY & PLANNING
The Scottish Government’s proposal to abolish strategic development plans for city regions has been removed from the Planning (Scotland) Bill. Unless the Bill is further amended, such plans will remain an option fort local authorities though more work is required on strategic planning. Further amendments to the Bill are expected (LTT762 14Dec p15)
Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Transport Secretary, is calling for a fundamental redesign of town centres to win the battle against pollution and poor air quality. Glasgow has introduced Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone (LEZ) Phased curbs on pollution form buses started when Glasgow LEZ began on 31 December with similar changes in all cities over the years to 2022.
Officelettings stayed high in both Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2018 with the city centre definition of the latter now extending into Tradeston south of the Clyde. City centre shopping prospects remain less bright, especially for Sauchiehall St, but some government relief is now being given to larger shops along with some funding for city and town centre improvement and higher taxation of on-line shopping businesses
Construction jobs in Scotland are falling as big infrastructure projects dry up (H12Dec)
700 homes are expected to be built on the derelict area east of High St in Glasgow. The City Council also favours more housing and population growth within the city. Plans are being prepared for 1,900 new homes on south-west edge of Livingston with good access to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
More attention, not least in Glasgow and Edinburgh, is being given to measures to make city and town centres more attractive for a range of activities, not just shopping (see recent consultation on Edinburgh city centre and the Glasgow Connectivity Report which has a strong focus on the city centre and means of restoring bus growth and access from all parts of the city. Population growth close to the city centre is also advocated rather than low density suburban sprawl with continuing rises in cycling and walking).
A 9-screen VUE cinema and associated restaurants are being added to the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow.
In Edinburgh, the go-ahead has been given for substantial office-space in the first phase of the Edinburgh Park development close to the airport. The scheme also includes two multi-storey car parks (EN27 Sept)
In Glasgow, east side office development is also proceeding in the Clyde Gateway zone close to the M74.
BRE Scotland is moving from East Kilbride to this site along with Spiers Gumley relocating from Glasgow city centre.
WH Smith reports high street woes apart from retail business growth at major rail and bus stations.
A £10m scheme will transform the Forth waterfront in Stirling.
A report by Transport for New Homes calls for plans for new housing to give more attention to location and layouts with much better integration with bus and rail plans and other action to encourage walking and cycling (LTT759 26 Oct p9) A similar view is expressed by Steve Melia, University of West of England, in LTT 762 14 Dec p6
A report from the Independent Transport Commission suggests that most rail growth since 2020 can be attributed to a sharper focus of employment growth in, or close to, city centres plus rising residential densities in cities. But it concludes that such favourable conditions for rail may not continue with further rises in home working plus diminished pressure for residential and employment densification (LTT761 23Nov p3) Separate studies of the position in Scotland are not available but there are suggestions that higher proportions of rail travel growth may be attributable to stronger growth in off-peak travel and the added impetus of rising tourist and leisure use of rail at off-peak times, including Sunday travel.
Stuart McIntosh of Methil has called for more big projects to be shifted away from Edinburgh with more transport investment related to struggling post-industrial areas in Fife, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. A low cost reopened mothballed line to Levenmouth could transform prospects for this area (H10Dec)
RESEARCH & STATISTICS
DfT lowered road traffic growth forecasts for England to the 17% to 51% range for 2015-50 but Prof Greg Marsden argues that climate change and changing social and tax preferences have not been given sufficient consideration. He seeks investigation by House of Commons Transport Select Committee and a stronger policy input to Scenarios. A lower range of growth seems probable and desirable (LTT757 28Sept p18-19)
Similar criticisms have been made of the Transport Scotland 2014-37 initial transport forecasts published in November 2018 (on Transport Scotland website). These suggest road vehicle miles in Scotland up 40% by 2037 (implying over 60% by 2050). Forecasts growth in person trips by car by 2037 are less at 25% with a 5% to 7%n fall in bus passenger miles but a 42% rise in rail passenger miles. Further work as part of scenario development in the Scottish Review of Transport Strategy is likely to lead to a lowering of road traffic growth forecasts, higher rail growth and a return to growth in bus passenger miles – also detail on plus significant growth in cycling and some growth in walking.
Passengers on CalMac ferries rose from 5.1m to 5.3m in 2017/18 with another 300,000 carried on the Argyll Ferries subsidiary Gourock-Dunoon route. Aided by further extension of RET vehicle traffic was up by 5% to 1.4m Profits fell from £5.3m to £4m, affected by rising problems in ship maintenance and delays in the arrival of new vessels (H15Dec).
In Milton Keynes, driverless pods (limited to 10mph) have already been developed for local links e.g. from main rail station but, along with Cambridge, Milton Keynes is considering a more extensive automated network able to operate at higher speeds (LTT757 28 Sept p 28-31)
Edinburgh Airport had another record month in September with a total of 1.4m passengers, up 5.8% on previous September. International passengers up 7.8% but with domestic UK routes also attracting more users.
Cars built in the UK fell almost 12% in September, affected by uncertainties over diesel and Brexit.
Reported Road Casualties ; Scotland 2017 (Transport Scotland) total down 14% on 2016 with deaths down 24% to 146 – serious injuries also down 6% to 1589 – well below the 1970s despite growth in road traffic
ScotRail overcrowding is up on 2017 with some Linlithgow-Haymarket commuters having to stand for 21 minutes, twice the 10 minute standard set by Transport Scotland (EN28Sept)
IPCC calls for new thinking on transport to avoid global temperatures rises over 1.5C. Transport now accounts for 28% of global energy demand and 23% of global energy related CO2. A 60% cut in transport emissions was needed by 2050 (LTT758 12Oct P5)
Research for Greener Scotland, a division of the Scottish Government, shows that almost two-thirds of Scots use the car every day for commuting, shopping and dropping children at school – yet leaving vehicles at home could save households £3000 a year and also improve health
A Climate Ready Clyde review concludes that climate change could cost the Glasgow region up to £499m a year with buildings, roads and railways at risk of being impaired or shut down by 2050 or earlier. There is a need for action to climate proof key rail tracks and roads along the Clyde (H1Nov)
David Banister, Oxford University, asks why we subsidise travel by the wealthy much more than travel by the poor. Poor would benefit more from improved local public transport and lower fares – spending should shift to this area. See his book Inequality in Transport, Marcham: Alexandrine Press, £30 (LTT760 9Novp26)
Prof. Adrian Davis, Napier TRI, is compiling a Scotland-specific archive on transport and health part-funded by Paths for All Charity for inclusion in TRI website (LTT23Nov p18 & 22-23)
49% of Edinburgh and Glasgow residents support a ban on cars entering the city centre but support in Aberdeen was lower at 43% (EN22Oct)
An HIE study has found a significant rise in the number of youngsters in the area hoping to stay in it and find work there though this attraction would rise if there was improvement in present rates of pay (H5Dec)
A recent study has found that high-speed internet is actually increasing the time people stay on the internet – with sleeping time (notably for youngsters) cut by an average 25 minutes a night with potential adverse impacts on health
40% of 2,560 rail stations in Britain do not have full step-free access (research by charity Leonard Cheshire for ORR) Though most local city buses now have step-free level access, there is concern that the rail network is falling behind. However, most trams offer level access and this procedure is being adopted in plans for expanding city light rail and Metro systems
ScotRail reports the worst punctuality in 12 years with only 87.2% of trains arriving within 5 minutes of time (and passengers also affected by the wider use of skip-stopping to recover time) (EN17Nov)
A Sustrans study funded by Transport Scotland has found that two-thirds of residents in Glasgow, Stirling and Perth support creation of more roadside cycle lanes even if this means less space for other road traffic.
Support was highest in Glasgow at 89% with Stirling at 83% and Perth at 69% (H28Nov)
A 3-year study for DfT has found that signed-only 20mph limits have not reduced collisions on casualties in residential areas but lack of effective enforcement may have influenced this outcome (LTT761 23Nov p1)
A trial 20mph zone in East Linton has found no discernible change in driver speeds through the village but a study of Scotland’s first urban speed cameras on Old Dalkeith Road in Edinburgh has found that vehicles speeding have fallen from 3 out of 5 vehicles to an average of only two offences per day (EN4Sept)Research for the Glasgow Centre for Population Health has concluded that slowing road traffic everywhere could be the key to making Scotland a safer place. Cutting the speed limit by 10mph in towns would not only save lives but also give public purse savings. Pedestrian road deaths rose from 23 to 26 in 2017 along with a 12% rise in serious injuries to cyclists. Wider use of 20mph limits in cities could cut road casualties by more than 10% and up to £39.9m a year in emergency service cots (H20Sept)
Scottish Government says it cannot currently support Green MSP Mark Ruskell’s Bill to make 20mph the speed limit on all roads with street lamps no more than 185metres apart unless local authorities apply for a 30mph limit (LTT761 23Nov p13)
Four years on since the Scottish legal drink-drive limit was cut from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood, cuts in road casualties related to drink driving have been lower than in other countries taking similar action. The reason may be that Scotland has a poor record in reducing accidents related to a hard core of drinkers well above present legal limits while progress has been made in other aspects of road safety (H13Dec)
Work by design firm Arcadis has concluded that driverless cars could free up 1,100 hectares of land in Edinburgh presently used for car parking
Elon Musk has built a prototype tunnel in Los Angeles for high-speed automated electric car travel, designed to lead to dramatic cuts in congestion but with many issues and costs to be resolved (H20 Dec)
BUSINESS & PERSONNEL
Edinburgh City Council has appointed Jacobs to draw up a business case for redesign of the city centre
Loganair boss has warned of more airline failures as fuel costs surge due to falling value of £ but is named Regional Airline of the Year for its handling of a difficult trading position. Ryanair report a 9% fall in half-year profits. Flybe shares are down 40% after a profits warning and may be sold. It has Scottish bases in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Easyjet reports rising profits and good prospects in Scotland. Scottish Government owned Prestwick Airport has cut operating losses 38% to £3m in year to 31 March but loans from Transport Scotland rose from £30.4m to £38.4m
First Group shares up 10% after Matthew Gregory’s promotion to chief executive, replacing Tim O’Toole who resigned in May
Stagecoach has sold its US bus, seeing better prospects for bus and rail growth in UK.
Rabbie’s Trail Burners, formed by Robin Worsnop in 1993, sees strong prospects for minibus growth on Scotland’s tourist routes. His firm now has over 100 vehicles from the north of Scotland to Edinburgh but he has concerns over the impact of proposed tourist taxes (H22Dec)
Despite complaints within Scotland, CalMac has been named UK Ferry Operator of the Year
Steve Szalay is the new Aberdeen Airport MD. Liam Sumpter, currently Regional Director of Northern Rail, is to replace David Dickson in the new post of Chief Operating Officer of Network Rail Scotland. This comes in the wake of major Network Rail performance concerns in Scotland though with fears from the Rail Action Group East of Scotland that he had been abrasive and rude (H29Nov).
Just months after his appointment, Sir Terry Morgan has resigned as HS2 Chair and also as London Crossrail Chair after renewed delays and funding issues affecting the London Crossrail project. Allan Cooke, former Chair of consultant W S Atkins is the new HS2 Chair.
Glasgow Connectivity Commission First Report, November, 16pages – on Glasgow City Council website
Transport Forecasts 2018 – November, covers period 2014-37, on Transport Scotland website
Border Union Dream D Spaven Stenlake Publishing 2018 A Survey of Border Union Railway plans to reopen the railway south of Hawick on a commercial basis, including substantial use for timber movement 1969-70