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Tom Hart’s transport notes, 1 January to 31 March 2019

Published 31 March 2019 by Transform Scotland

Tom HartTom Hart, from Scottish Association for Public Transport (SAPT), comments, in a personal capacity, on Scottish transport policy.



Growing worldwide pressures to avoid a major climatic disaster by accelerated moves to near zero carbon emissions by 2050 are supported by the Scottish Government yet are in conflict with government encouragement for further oil and gas extraction, mainly west of Shetland, to strengthen shorter term prospects for the Scottish economy (provided oil and gas prices stay at higher levels). These plans are linked with unproven carbon capture and storage.

UK Government is planning to raise one-third of Britain’s electricity from off-shore wind by 2030
(presently 7%) with significant amounts from Scotland, aided by an undersea connection from Shetland to the UK electricity network (H7Mar)

There is a shift of interest towards carefully phased fiscal, pricing and regulatory strategies ensuring radical change without generating strong and early objections from voters. Under pressure from the Greens, the budget of the minority Scottish Government was finally approved after higher rises in Council Tax were permitted along with controversial moves to workplace parking charges and powers to local authorities to introduce tourist levies. Property levies may also help to underpin some transport schemes. There is vocal opposition to workplace parking levies (H5Feb) but less interest in wider reforms in transport pricing and taxation

Sales of electric and low emission vehicles remain insufficient to meet the Scottish Government target of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicle by 2032, eight years earlier than the UK government (H9Jan) Another major issue pending is how to move from present levels of road fuel taxation and VED, still set at UK level, to differential road use charging and time varied rates for charging electric road vehicles. Though bringing in more tourists, air travel continues to grow despite being carbon dependent. The UK Committee on Climate Change now argues that constraints on the growth of air travel are needed (LTT 767 1 Mar. p14)

Airports are being encouraged to step-up their own anti-drone measures after recent problems at Gatwick and Heathrow – they cannot continue to rely on aid from Army staff and technology.
Recent incidents haves been at Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports (H19Jan & 16Mar)

NHS Highland is planning to hire private drone operators to drop off supplies at GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes – also possible drone use for supplies to islands (H31Jan)

Hindered by the loss of most Loganair services and some transatlantic services, Glasgow Airport has had falling passenger numbers in 2018 but expects a return to growth by 2020. It is also stepping up pressure for a link to the rail network, easing problems on western M8. Others argue that it would be better to make greater use of Prestwick Airport, already having a rail link and substantial unused capacity.

Edinburgh Airport had 6.5% passenger growth in 2018 to a record high of 14.3m but Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport CE, warns that passenger growth in 2019 will be significantly lower unless the Scottish Government proceeds with plans to halve APD

Loganair has taken over key Scottish air routes after Flybmi went into administration – also the route from Derry to London Stansted plus starting a new Derry-Manchester route. Loganair also has new routes from Glasgow, Stornoway and Aberdeen to London Southend Airport linking with 53 minute rail trip to London Liverpool St.
Air services from Oban to Colonsay, Coll and Tiree may be suspended this summer pending Argyll and Bute Council negotiating lower contract prices (H22Mar)

Passengers at Edinburgh Airport grew 6.5% to a new record 14.3m in 2018. Glasgow expects to reach 12.8m in 2028 and 16.8m by 2040 (study by York Aviation). Glasgow had 9.7m passengers in 2018 a drop of 2.4% on previous year influenced by most Ryanair flights moving to Edinburgh.
Edinburgh will have direct flights to via form this October to next March

March saw the 50th anniversary of the first Concorde test flight in 1969 but Concorde market did not develop with all flights ending in 2003.

Aberdeen Airport passengers fell 1.4% to 3.1m. As well as Brexit concerns, there are fears that a wider global slowing of economic growth (including China) may slow growth in air travel). Growth in air travel to and from Sweden has stalled falling introduction of an aviation tax. Scottish airports fear a 10% fall in flights if there is a no-deal Brexit (H11Feb) Passengers arriving at Edinburgh complain of a poor passenger experience in the airport.

Committee on Climate Change has advised government that air travel demand will require to be constrained to meet UK targets of an 80% cut (on 1990 levels) in carbon emissions by 2050 (LTT767 1 Mar p14)

Greening Aviation- Business Herald Spring 2019 p 68-69 This examines the major problems of electrifying air travel. Norway is prioritising work on small, limited seat electric planes for short inter-island trips. It is hoped that a 25 seat electric plane could be in service by 2025 with 50 seats possible by 2032 but still on short trips. With no action, aviation could have a 24% share of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Scottish cargo, cruise and fishing ports remain buoyant despite Brexit and may actually benefit.
Major expansion of Aberdeen Port will be completed in 2020. Grangemouth has seen further investment as Scotland’s major container port (H Special Review 29Jan)

Prestonpans Community Council is campaigning for conversion of former Cockenzie Power Station as a cost-effective, well situated cruise terminal (EN30Jan) Expanded coverage is in H 12 Feb saying site could accommodate larger cruise ships and also a berth for a nightly service to the continent. Transport consultant Roy Pedersen has given detailed advice on port layout and costs

Cruise Scotland reports a 16.7% rise in yearly passenger numbers to almost 800,000 in 2018 with 825 ships involved. This is expected to rise to around 1000 ships and 920,000 passengers in 2019 (H12 Feb) Cromarty First is expecting a record 180,000 passengers on 109 cruise ships in 2019

Calmac continues under attack for ‘shocking’ service (H15Mar) Ferry ramps on Coll and at Tarbert on Harris require major repairs. Half of CalMac ships have now served more than their 25 year lifespan. Islanders on Mull also claim that the pier at Craignure needs repair but owner Argyll and Bute Council has taken no action. CalMac’s Community Board has attacked Scottish Government plans to increase peak-time fares on west coast ferries. Western Ferries may return to Islay with a new freight service for the whisky industry (H16Mar) Western Isles Council is seeking improved services, including two ferries on the Stornoway-Ullapool route

RMT has called for more Scottish Government support for the ageing ferries operated by Orkney Islands Council but government response is that an extra £10.5m was being made available for internal ferry services in Orkney and Shetland

Western Isles MP Angus McNeill has queried plans to raise peak ferry fares but agrees that action is needed to ease the problems for locals trying to book ferries at peak times (H19Jan)

In Edinburgh, the Leamington Lift Bridge on the Union Canal, closed since summer 2018, is to be repaired helped by a £350,000 grant from the Sustrans National Cycle Development programme funded by Scottish Government. Canal reaches bicentenary in 2022. £1.6m of additional Scottish Government funding has also allowed repairs of two Forth and Clyde Canal Bridges by April

To cut construction and operating costs HS2 trains on new route may run at 200mph or less compared to original plans for 225mph top speeds (H14Jan). Plans have been approved for HS2Phase 2a from London to the West Midlands and Crewe but Phase 2b onwards to Manchester, Wigan and from Birmingham Airport to Leeds may be varied to take account of pressures from Transport for North (TFN) for wider upgrades of trans-Pennine routes and other improvements in the north-east, towards Liverpool and on the East Coast route from Newcastle to Edinburgh – which could give 3 hour trip times from London to Edinburgh along with better links from Scotland to English midland and northern cities (LTT765 1Feb p12). TPE is introducing new express trains on routes from north-west England to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

FirstGroup has gained permission to operate five ‘open access’ services using new Hitachi electric trains between Edinburgh and London from autumn 2021 competing with the LNER services now operated by a UK government company. First Group promises average fares under £25 (H22Mar)

Transport Scotland has consultants working on plans for high-speed routes east from Glasgow into Lanarkshire giving improved access south via Lanarkshire and to an upgraded Edinburgh-Newcastle route – timescales not stated but completion may be early 2030s. (LTT765 1Feb p7) Glasgow retains an interest in 3 hour timings to London via West Coast route, also improving access to Manchester and Birmingham.

Virgin Trains has introduced Alexa-enabled devices to allow disabled passengers to combine booking tickets with requesting assistance (H26Feb)

The Arup masterplan for Waverley station will be on display in the concourse until 26 April. In the past 10 years usage has risen from 10m passengers to over 24m and is expected to reach 49m by 2048. An updated plan will be published in September (H26 Mar)l

Abellio ScotRail has had a torrent of complaints about late-running, overcrowded and cancelled trains leading to pressure for it to be stripped of its franchise along with the extension of nationalisation (already applying to Network Rail) to passenger train operation under Scottish Government control. UK government has appointed Williams to undertake a priority review of rail structure and operations while Labour has appointed transport academic Prof Phil Goodwin to advise on wider reforms of UK transport provision and how it is paid for and funded. Goodwin expects to report early in 2021 with his report considered as part of the Labour manifesto for the 2022 General Election (LTT765 1 Feb p1 &25)

Some commentators see criticism of Abellio as unfair – about half of recent rail troubles can be attributed to Network Rail Scotland infrastructure and signalling deficiencies. However, problems since December were worsened by severe delays in delivering the 70 new electric trains sets ordered by Abellio, other delays in bringing refurbished HSTs into service on internal Scottish Inter-city routes and the introduction of a large expansion of Central Belt services and longer trains in mid December. Problems are easing as more new trains arrive with staff training completed but it may have been wiser to delay large timetable changes in December. Train cancellations had fallen by February. Trains on time fell to 79% in December, were back to 84.2% in January with 92.5% of trains expected to be on time by March 2021. David MacBrayne Ltd (already publicly owned and owner of CalMac) has been asked by the Transport Secretary to consider a bid for ScotRail if Abellio is stripped of the contract (H8Feb)

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has admitted January fare rises were ‘unwelcome’ (H4Jan) while former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has complained that ‘affordable rail travel has hit the buffers’. Many fares were far higher than on continental Europe (EN8Jan) Another letter-writer from Dunbar asked ‘why can’t public transport be free’ (H28 Jan) as the benefits of abandoning cars, especially in cities, would be huge. Comment Zero fares over all of Scotland are unrealistic due to funding issues and with many still finding cars more convenient than free public transport but there is a strong case for lowering simplified and integrated rail and bus fares relative to car use costs – an issue for the new NTS (National Transport Strategy for Scotland now being prepared and possibly including free public transport in some city centre zones

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Abellio is in ‘the last chance saloon’ and may be stripped of its franchise if there is no early improvement. Abellio report that is has suffered from Network Rail deficiencies and delays in train deliveries aggravated by a loss of drivers and other key personnel – partly affected by moves to better-paid jobs. It will be unable to avoid breaches of formal franchise commitments until May 2020 (H22&23 Mar)

Abellio ScotRail is inviting retired train drivers to consider a return to work, easing the present shortage of drivers. Trains are still having to be cancelled due to backlog in delivery of new electric trains and related driver training.

Poll for Censusworld Scotland finds that 55% of regular rail travellers find it hard to pay peak fares while 59% say they struggle to find seats at peak travel times (H23Jan)

To improve customer care recruitment problems. Abellio is planning to move office staff from Fort William to Glasgow but there may be opportunities for more local staff with rising tourist use of rail on the route to Mallaig including the Glenfinnan viaduct. Greater use of the Jacobite steam trains and of the local ScotRail service, with more trains operating and new work on footpath links to assist viewing the Glenfinnan viaduct could ease problems of too many tourist using their cars to access Glenfinnan and requiring parking space. Local and national groups are joining to develop plans to further increase rail modal share (H12 Feb)

Network Rail has appointed Amco as main contractor for a £13m enhancement of Dunbar station. The Campaign for Borders Rail is seeking both Scottish and UK Government support for a rail extension from Tweedbank through Hawick to Carlisle. Users of Borders Rail say overcrowding has reached its worst ever level due to rising usage and delays in shifting diesel trains to raise capacity between Edinburgh and Tweedbank (EN7Jan)

Glasgow Airport sees its future growth, and eased congestion on M8 west from Glasgow, as dependent on a direct link to the national rail network (H30Jan) while an article in Rail 871 30 Jan p70-71 says that plans for extra road capacity into Edinburgh Airport need to be complemented by construction of a rail chord south of Dalmeny giving direct access from Falkirk, Stirling and Glasgow Queen St to Edinburgh Gateway station with its direct tram link into the Airport.

Transport Minister Michael Matheson has again explained to MSPs that the Glasgow Airport rail link plan was cancelled due to lack of capacity for additional trains between Paisley and Glasgow
and similar problems at Glasgow Central station. However, the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) will consider these issues, including use of bus priorities to cut congestion on the M8 and restudy of options for an airport rail link including a Crossrail (a reopened City Union route) linking rail networks to the south and north of Glasgow (H 8 Feb)

Scottish Government announces £600m rise in Scottish rail investment over next five years. Day to day funding for existing infrastructure will rise 21% by 2024. Five new stations are planned at Robroyston, Kintore, Reston, East Linton and Dalcross plus more electrification. A shopping list of potential projects will be regularly assessed and taken forward if money allows Transport Minister Michael Matheson again calls for complete devolution of responsibility for rail infrastructure in Scotland (H27 Mar)

Scottish Greens seek faster action to provide step-free access at rail stations. Only 40 of 350 stations in Scotland are officially ‘step-free’, aided by lifts and ramps (EN 27 Dec) A further issue is that, though level entry from platform to train is becoming a standard feature of tram and light rail systems, progress is much less on the national rail network due to technical issues arising where there is a mix of stopping trains and express trains, aggravated by curvature on station platforms.

R J Ardern of Inverness continues campaigning for electrification and double-tracking of the Perth-Inverness main line. David Spaven sees scope parcel traffic revival, usage space on West Highland passenger trains and on the new InterCity 125 trains north to Inverness and Aberdeen (S 19Feb)

HITRANS is seeking to influence rail freight operators to use 6 sites in the Highlands for transfers of timber to rail

Storms continues to cause major problems where rail is alongside the sea wall outside Saltcoats, disrupting services to Ardrossan Harbour and Largs with the latter town also upgrade of hourly service to half-hourly, already available at most other Ayrshire stations. This would require restoration of former double track, as also required to improve reliability between Dumbarton and Balloch and on Westerton-Milngavie services in greater Glasgow. Storms causing a tree fall on Glasgow-Ayr electric line south of Irvine led to most services cancelled on 13 March

Working in partnership with other bodies, Network Rail and Transport Scotland are providing a new footpath and viewing areas at Glenfinnan Viaduct, helping to increase the share of visitors arriving by public transport (H12Feb)

West Lothian Council has rejected plans for a 300 space park and ride car park at Kirknewton to serve new housing. Proposed site is seen as unsuitable due to a level crossing and some existing buildings. A more suitable site may emerge.

In a list of rail lines being considered for reopening, CBT has listed 3 routes in Scotland Alloa-Dunfermine, Leuchars-StAndrews and Thornton-Levenmouth for possible reopening but all face cost issues relative to benefits (RAIL 873 27Feb)

New lifts have been installed as part of a £2.7m modernisation of Kilmarnock station. Despite offers of partial funding from local Councils, there is concern that planned new stations at East Linton and Reston on the Edinburgh-Berwick line will not now be open until after 2024

Pending repairs to substructure, Cairngorm Funicular Railway, opened in 2001, will remain closed at least until start of next winter

The Flying Scotsman steam locomotive will make a historic return to Inverness in May but with return fares from Edinburgh between £699 and £999 per person


Aided by frequency every 3 minutes at peak periods and never less than every 10 minutes, usage of Edinburgh trams in past year has risen 10% to 7.3m journeys. A 2.9m tram extension to Newhaven has been approved by Edinburgh City Council with opening in 2023. Capital Costs are £207m plus a £50m contingency and a further £150m on repayment of borrowing costs expected to be funded from rising tram income. 8 trams an hour will run through from Airport to Newhaven with a further 4 per hour from Haymarket to Newhaven. Usage of the existing route is expected to reach 8.7m by 2023 with a further 7m added by the Newhaven extension. Accounts exclude estimates of environmental benefits (LTT767 1 Mar p12) Some have questioned why Lothian Buses, still profitable, should make any contribution to the tram network (EN 1Mar)

Edinburgh tram horns are to be louder after a fatal accident when a man tried to use a footpath crossing on open ground in west Edinburgh

DfT favours consideration of Light Rail in English cities between 200,000 and 600,000 but only on routes having at least 2000/3000 passengers per hour. Also urges study of 20-30 seat auto transit and 4-6 seat driverless vehicles (LTT 766 5Feb p16)

Scottish Government has rejected proposals for a tramtrain link from Glasgow Airport to Glasgow Central on the grounds that there is insufficient track capacity between Paisley and Glasgow and also a lack of platform capacity at Central. In discussions with Transport Minister, Council leaders and airport bosses have agreed to examine a new proposal for a high frequency, segregated Personal Rapid Transport (Light rail) link from Glasgow Airport to Paisley Gilmour St rail station. Stuart Patrick of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has attacked this an as ineffective ‘toytown’ solution (H1Feb) Others argue that the present express bus link using the M8 is a good service despite some considering ‘bus travel beneath their dignity’. Nigel Dewar Gibb has said Glasgow should be a ‘bold city’ and introduce a monorail to the airport

Stagecoach is seeking reservation of outside lanes on parts of the M8 in Glasgow for buses only
CPT Scotland is strongly in favour of Workplace Parking levy as a means to encourage car users to shift to bus (H14Feb)

Scottish Government has placed a £214m cap on bus operator compensation for concession fares in 2019/20. Bus fares in Scotland have averaged an 11% rise compared to 6% across Britain

A Transport Focus Survey has found that 91% of passengers in Scotland were satisfied with their latest bus trip compared to 88% in England. Satisfaction with ‘value for money’ in Scotland averaged 71%. However, journey times, frequency and weak networks were still a deterrent with bus patronage still falling unless these issues were tackled. Many bus services were not yet seen as a viable alternative to car use (H 21 Mar)

Richard Leonard of Scottish Labour has been accused of ‘economic illiteracy’ in proposing free bus travel for those under 25 with a later extension to the entire population (H20Mar) Ministers say they will consider the proposal for free under 25 bus travel. However funding costs could be
between £200m and £230m a year compared to the Labour estimate of £13.5m. Government already spends £250m a year on bus services and concessionary travel as part of its £1bn funding for public transport. These issues will be considered further in the coming review of Scottish Transport Strategy (H21Mar)

Paul White of CPT Scotland has called for much stronger priorities to ensure smooth bus flow in cities and encourage rising use (H7Mar) CPT is intensifying campaigns to improve the quality and usage of the bus network and has become a partner in the Herald’s Climate for Change Campaign

Lothian Buses are introducing Britain’s biggest double-deckers with 129 passengers and extra doors to be used on services 11 and 16. They are 4.5ft longer than traditional double deckers but have been tested on tight corners. McGill’s have ordered a further 26 buses from Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis. Passengers will have free wifi and engines will be to Euro 6 low emission standards (H29 Mar)

Aberdeen has received government grants to add a further 5 hydrogen vehicles to the bus fleet.
Lothian buses considers that diesel Euro VI bus standards are more cost-effective in reducing local air pollution than costly battery electric buses – though these do deliver lowered carbon and could be in wider use by late 2020s (LTT 766 15Feb p18)

First Scotland East has bowed to public pressure to restore the Edinburgh-Linlithgow daytime service, cut to 2 per hour, to the previous 4 per hour. First Bus is also seeking to recruit more female drivers.

Contactless payment is now available on Lothian’s Skylink bus services. 23 smaller bus operators across Scotland are gaining £500,000 of Scottish Government funding for contactless fares.

Lothian Buses are celebrating 100 years of publicly-run buses in Edinburgh. The former Edinburgh Corporation Transport added buses to the tram network in 1919 though with the last line in the former tram system not closed until 1957

Ministers have announced over £1m of funding for green buses in Glasgow’s first Low Emission Zone (LEZ) (LTT763 4Jan p13). Scottish Green Bus Fund ha already paid out £16m to aid purchase of more environment friendly vehicles. Electric buses are to be trialled on a rural route in Moray, running between Aberlour and Forres via Knockando. Has European INTERREG funding

Edinburgh cabbies are objecting to higher fees for retesting vehicles. City councillors are devising a scheme to expand electric taxis and private hire vehicles. Charging points will increase with 211 planned across the city by 2023 and costing £3.3m. Electric taxis were not allowed in Edinburgh until 2015 but Council aims to have 623 electric taxis and private hire operating in the city by 2023. Taxi operators attack proposals as unrealistic, actually reducing chargers available for taxis and imposing a higher connection fee for using chargers than the £1 fee for residents. Taxi trade also being hit by ‘pirate’ operators.


The new local authority powers for workplace parking levies gained as part of the Scottish Budget deal with the Greens have come under strong criticism from the Conservatives as an attack on the low paid while gaining very lukewarm support from the SNP (H8Feb) The original proposal excluded NHS premises but the Scottish Government has hinted at further exemption for premises occupied by public sector bodies. The actual proposal is for a levy on workplaces related to the number of parking spaces provided – there is no obligation on business to impose a charge on users of workplace parking. It is expected that most local authorities will not adopt workplace charging but this could happen in and around major cities – as in the successful Nottingham scheme – with net income earmarked for public transport, walking and cycling improvements.

Kezia Duncan argues that the intense opposition to workplace parking charges has played down the substantial advantages of such action (along with local tourist taxes) and diverted attention from more important issues (EN12Feb)

Until now, there has been little discussion of the advantages for the lower paid (and others) in shifts from car use aided by lowering of local public transport fares relative to the cost of car use and parking, especially at peak times. Such issues need consideration in the major Scottish Transport strategic reviews now in progress. E Scott of Evanton asks why consideration was not given to perks encouraging people to walk, (cycle) or take public transport to work (H8Feb) There is added concern that if charges are levied on workers, VAT would also have to be paid (H11Feb)

Edinburgh City Council is to introduce Sunday parking charges as well as raising existing on-street pay and display charges by between 3% and 20% depending on location (EN 27Feb)

Dramatic cuts in journey times are expected on completion of Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road Route, offering huge benefits for the local economy and some relief in Aberdeen (LTT763 4Jan p15)
The last section of the 36 mile route opened in late February.

Local authority roads in Scotland have seen a 16% cut in spending since 2010 (H6Feb) Perth and Kinross Council is inviting contractors to discuss Cross Tay Link Road and Bridge north of Perth. Government has offered a £40contributuion but total cost likely to be around £120m.

The new £90m opening road bridge across the Clyde between Renfrew and Yoker is expected to be completed by 2022. It may lead to closure of the existing pedestrian ferry and significant changes in the local bus network.

More of Scotland’s roads will be eligible for speed cameras following changes in criteria to identify sites (LTT766 16Feb p1) Calls are being made for more consistency in Local Council traffic management, signing and parking policies rather than seeing these as a cash cow for hard-pressed local authority funds

Around 111,000 potholes were reported to local councils in Scotland in 2018. More Scottish Government support is being sought for longer-term maintenance programmes to ensure effective maintenance and renewal programmes for local roads (H21Feb)

Edinburgh Airport is investing £112m in new technology to increase parking space. Mulit-storeys will be added to the existing surface car park, providing 5,000 extra parking spaces by 2021

Villages in Lochawe on A85 are planning a community-run speed trap to ensure lower speeds through the village (H19Feb)

There is widespread unhappiness about the impact on local life of rising tourist traffic on the North Coast 500 – see study by Stirling University researcher Gary Woodcock (H11Feb) But the Uists and the Cairngorm Business Partnership seek to aid the local economy through promotion of tourism by car and other means. A 90 mile Snow Route is being promoted through the Cairngorms National Park (H14&21 Feb)

Black-box car insurance policies can lead to major cuts in insurance costs and more careful driving.
Other legal issues arising from driverless cars decision-taking mechanisms seeking to minimise overall damage in accidents – as where occupants of a car may suffer less or minimal damage but damage of others outside the car is higher (H28Feb) Another problem could arise from driverless vehicles moving around empty to avoid parking charges but causing more congestion (H2Feb) See also 26 Feb H editorial on ‘Self-driving cars raise critical issues’

Plans are being prepared for a new opening foot/cycle bridge across the Clyde linking Govan with the Riverside Transport Museum – hopefully open by 2021 (S30Jan)

Scottish Government is planning to use £345m in business partnerships to boost infrastructure investment in cycling and walking reducing pressure on country roads such as North Coast 500 and enhancing the Caledonian Way. The scheme is also likely to end the long delay in providing a foot/cycle path between Drem Rail Station and Gullane, easing car parking pressures at Drem rising as more housing is built in Gullane. The route will also be popular for leisure cycling and walking (H11Feb)

Prof. John Parkin has called for shifts in design practice from segregated routes designed for both walkers and cyclists to the Dutch approach of separate segregated cycle networks with a 30kmph design speed rather than 4kmph for mainly pedestrian routes

Professional mountain biker Lee Craigie has been appointed Active Travel Commissioner for Scotland – boosting government efforts to increase walking and cycling. Trips by bike are still only around 2% of total trips despite an aim of 10% of trips by bike by 2020. Transport Secretary Michael Matheson wants to expand active travel to include bus and train because these also involve walking and cycling (S22Dec)

Edinburgh City Council is planning to exclude motor vehicles from a loop of city centre streets from 10am to 5pm on the first Sunday of every month. The Council will also place electric charging points on city roadways rather than cluttering up pavements. Council also consulting on further measures to encourage walking and cycling – also using design consultants AECOM. Is strong public support for enhancements encouraging walking, cycling and more attractive public spaces One downside has been a rise in cycle vandalism. £120,000 will be used to expand city’s e-bike fleet (EN7Feb, H19Mar)

Plans for George St in Edinburgh New Town include halving of motor vehicle lanes, removal of central parking bays, more seating and more space for pedestrians and cyclists (H17Jan)

A OnePoll survey of 2000 people (half with dogs) has found that dog owners average 870 miles a year walking their pet whereas those with no dog walk around 650 miles a year – still a high level compared to other limited data on miles walked (H31Jan)

Transport Scotland has appointed a team led by Jacobs and AECOM to conduct the second Scottish Strategic Transport Projects Review. This will also take account of the new NTS for Scotland and take 2 years to complete. NTS will be published in draft for consultation this spring with final version end 2019 (LTT1Febp21)

Transport Scotland is asking councils to form regional transport working groups to provide inputs to the current reviews of NTS and the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) There are at present 7 Regional Transport Partnerships but views are sought from 13 council groupings on grouping they would favour for the future. SPT favours retention of its existing boundary (based on travel to work) which embraces some or all of the 13 areas listed (LTT767 1 Mar 15)

Andrew Wilson, economist and advisor to SNP sees Edinburgh as best placed for substantial economic and population growth in the next 25 years though with population also rising in most of the rest of Scotland (EN 16 Jan)

Edinburgh plans to lead Scottish cities with plans to restrict cars from swathe of central Edinburgh and a transformed streetscene including Lothian Rd, High St and Cowgate (H23Feb) but also a shift in office development and housing to Edinburgh Park , the western fringe and Forth Waterfront

In addition to housing development in East Lothian/Midlothian, there is growing interest in larger housing development beyond the immediate city fringe – including renewed momentum for 3,500 new homes and other facilities at Winchburgh and a further 1,500 homes at Dalmahoy/Ratho

Court judgement has finally cleared the way for a relocated Aberdeen FC stadium and related facilities at Westhill, close to the newly opened Western Peripheral Road

Around Glasgow, there is a stronger focus on development and regeneration along the river from Clyde Gateway to Yoker, including expansion of the St Enoch shopping/entertainment area (H5Feb)

Fife Council has approved 1,500 new houses in Halbeath area and wants early opening of a park and ride rail station in this area. Local MSP wants faster progress on this £7m project

Unlike price falls (from a high base) in London and expectations of more moderate rises in house prices over most of Scotland in the coming five years, JLL forecast a 16.5% house price rise in Edinburgh and 13.7% in Glasgow (H 14 Feb) Edinburgh remains the top spot for new hotels


Scottish Transport Statistics No. 37 2018 (February, Transport Scotland 323 pages)
Also available on web. Highlights are:-

Vehicle kms on Scottish roads 2017 up 3.3% on 2016 (across GB up 1.3%)
Growth in goods vehicle kms on major roads remains high but car kms up only 1%
On minor roads, car kms growth at 5% significantly higher than in previous years
(but with further research needed on probable falls in car occupancy)
Absolute volume of m/bike and pedal bike use on major roads remains low and stable but with higher, and rising volumes on minor roads

Road Traffic at specific count points (table 5.7b) shows some major falls, contrasting with the rise in overall growth and requires further explanation

Bus trips show a further fall and are split by region but with Fife and SE almost overtaking Strathclyde and the SW despite a lower population. No data is included on bus passenger kms though Transport Scotland did produce such data in November 2018, suggesting that total passenger kms by rail in Scotland have overtaken passenger kms by bus

ScotRail Trips and Passenger kms Both reached an all time high in 2017 – 97.8m trips and
2,959 pass.kms (ORR data reports 6.3% rise in Anglo-Scottish rail trips to 9.6m in 2017-18)

Air Travel between Scotland and rest of UK Down from 12.9m trips in 2007 to 11.3m in 2017. Air trips to and from other countries up from 10.35m in 2007 to 15.5m

Internal Ferries Passengers up from 8.3m in 2016 to 8.5m in 2017, including 5.2m on CalMac and 1.4m on privately owned Western Ferries. N Ireland Ferry Passengers stable at 1.8m

Taxi, Private Hire, Cycling and Walking – no overall data provided but some information available in Scottish Household Survey (SHS)

Personal and Cross-modal Travel
In 2017 73% report travel on day prior to SHS survey, down from 80% in 2007
43% of adults had used bus in previous month compared to 31% who had used a train
(more than double those reported as using train in 2007) l
Average car trip length 15.2km rail 28.9k cycle 4.5km – no data on average bus trip length
Since 2007 % of people driving every day down from 45.2% to 41.9%
14% of employed adults worked from home in 2017 compared to 11% in 2007
% of adults walking at least a quarter mile to go somewhere has risen to 69% while 61% of adults say they walk for pleasure or to keep fit.
UK new car registrations were down 6.8% in 2018 with the Scottish fall 8.2%

Inrix estimates that road congestion cost the UK economy £8bn in 2018. London and Edinburgh had the slowest average speeds for peak road travel into their central business districts. Lothian Buses confirm that rising congestion in Edinburgh is turning people away from bus services – UK driver are becoming more, not less reliant on using their cars (EN 13 Feb) (though with rising evidence that car occupancy is falling at peaks and slowing peak travel times by buses with much higher occupancy)

Historic Environment Scotland reports 5% rise to 5.2m in visits to manned sites in 2018 (H27Feb)

New V&A museum in Dundee has had almost 350,000 visits in first three months with some spin-off to other sites in Dundee. Visits to the adjacent Scott Discovery ship are up 40%. Both sites are close to the newly renovated Dundee rail station. But overall visits to Scottish attractions fell 0.5% to 61.4m in 2018, mainly attributed to the hot summer weather attracting more to unrecorded outdoor activities. (H20Mar)

Report from Institute for Government has been highly critical of civil service organisation with an excessive turnover of staff encouraged by the promotion game. Too often when discussing policy, officials just ‘didn’t know what they were talking about’. This problem especially severe in DfT. Nigel Harris of Rail magazine says main immediate need (which could be confirmed in imminent Williams Review), is a reduced role for DfT and creation of a new Rail Authority with experienced staff serving for longer periods (LTT764 18Jan p3) (Rail Magazine 871 30Jan p3 & 42-47) This could also incorporate greater regional devolution of rail and other transport policies.

The Commission on Travel Demand has found that car occupancy has been falling but the number of cars rising. There is to be further study of this topic, studying the scope for raised occupancy and decreasing car ownership (LTT 767 1 Mar p13) There is increasing evidence of falling car ownership and use yet the political focus is still the interests of the ‘motorist’ (LTT764 18Jan p23)

Reports prepared by environmental consultants for FoE say that UK transport carbon will need to be cut around 80% by 2030 to meet current CCC targets. This may require a cut in car mileage of 58% between 2016 and 2035 or 35/45% by 2030. Free bus travel for the under 30s and higher density housing development is also recommended – see More than electric cars why we need to reduce traffic to meet carbon targets (LTT766 15Feb p16 &23)

A new report by Tom Hart (Scottish Transport – Changing Directions 2000-2040) has compared actual 2000-2020 Scottish transport outcomes since his original 1999 report on 2000-2020 with potential scenarios and outcomes to 2040. After high 1950-99 growth, car use per head in Scotland has stabilised but, to meet changing consumer preferences and action to cut transport carbon, passenger kilometres by car in Scotland are likely to fall from 80% of passenger movement to around 65% by 2040 with substantial growth in the rail share of longer-distance transport (within and beyond Scotland) along with growth in city transit (light rail and bus) and in walking & cycling (copies available from The report is also summarised in H15 Mar. feature, ‘ Towards a bolder transport strategy’

The base of the Transport Model for Scotland (TMS) is being upgraded to 2018 with £550,000 being spent on model development. Robots and robot drones are being developed to facilitate train cleaning and bridge inspection

Russell Borthwick, CE of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, agrees that completion of the Aberdeen Peripheral Road will bring an extra £6bn of income to the area and 14,000 jobs over the next 30 years. A study by York Aviation for Glasgow Airport finds that it generates more than £1.44m a year for the Scottish economy and supports more than 30,000 jobs. However, such conclusions have been queried by the Committee on Climate Change as not taking account of economic and social pressures for large cuts in transport carbon by 2050.

CCC is urging more rapid action to lower transport carbon and has also proposed a new-build ban on gas hobs and heating boilers from 2025 (H22 Feb)

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Development of Tourism Act, Visit Scotland has produced a tongue-in-cheek Research Paper – Tourism Futures 2069 on what Scottish tourism might be like by 2069. It includes robot waiters, driverless flying taxis, supersonic trips from New York in 2 hours & space flights from Prestwick, Leuchars and Lossiemouth. There is no mention of global warming issues apart from a potential boost to visitors to a relatively cool Scotland (H 1 March)

Study by Stirling University researcher Gary Woodcock has found that the growing North Coast 500 car tourist route has had some adverse local impacts with some people moving away from the area and others saying quality of life has been affected (H11Feb)


Scottish Government has appointed an Infrastructure Commission to advise on priorities for a 30 year infrastructure strategy. Chair is Ian Russell (also chair of Scottish Futures Trust) Other members – Prof Iain Docherty – about to move from Glasgow University to be dean of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Stirling University, Rachel Skinner UK head of transport at consultant WSP and Sara Thiam, director of the Institution of Civil Engineers in Scotland

SPT has launched an online survey on transport as part of a new Regional Transport Strategy

First Group reports improving prospects in US school bus activities. There had been a 1.3% rise in its UK bus business revenue though passenger volumes were down 1.9%. UK rail revenues were up 4.2%, slower than in previous years due to infrastructure and operational issues

Tui blames a long and hot summer, and a weaker pound, on increased losses for the group. More UK residents had holidayed within the UK but other firms and hotels have gained from rising numbers of overseas visitors to the UK. Ryanair reports winter usage lower than expected