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Inter-City Express


We want to see a long-term programme of investment in the Scottish inter-city rail network so that rail, rather than road, can become the norm for travel between our cities.

The Inter-City Express programme would transform rail travel, bringing all seven of Scotland’s cities closer together – with a safe, civilised and sustainable mode of transport. The key features of the programme are to:

  • Extend planned electrification from Perth to Dunblane, in conjunction with doubling and electrifying the largely single-track Inverness-Perth railway – transforming its capacity and capability for both passenger and freight traffic.
  • Reduce journey times from Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee to the Central Belt through electrification and extensive doubling of the network.
  • Take the long-neglected single track rail line from Aberdeen to Inverness into the 21st Century.
  • Build and electrify a new direct rail link from Perth to Edinburgh, slashing up to 35 minutes off journey times from Inverness and Perth to Edinburgh.
  • Create a new Inter-City rail hub at Perth station – the catalyst for transport connectivity and urban regeneration.

We want to see a programme of journey time improvements and capacity enhancements (coupled with electrification) to link all Scottish cities by a modern, efficient rail system.

Journey times on key inter-urban corridors such as Edinburgh/Glasgow-Aberdeen and Edinburgh/Glasgow-Inverness are often uncompetitive because of the lack of real investment in rail infrastructure over many years. For example, in 1895, the fastest Edinburgh-Dundee journey time was 59 minutes – while in 2012, the fastest trip is 64 minutes (and the average 79 minutes). In 1913, the fastest Edinburgh-Perth journey took 65 minutes, while in 2012, the fastest time is 76 minutes (and the average 79 minutes).

In the short-term, this means the Scottish Government implementing in full the three key rail schemes which emerged from the Strategic Transport Projects Review:

  • Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) project
  • Highland Main Line improvements
  • Aberdeen-Inverness line improvements

This programme would also include a focus on the strategic transport nodes, with Glasgow Central, Glasgow Queen Street, Edinburgh Waverley, Edinburgh Haymarket, Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling, Perth, & Inverness stations being developed as high-quality transport interchanges. This is essential for connectivity within Scotland & for links to the south. Specifically as a gateway to Scotland’s capital, Waverley requires significant enhancement of its passenger environment and capacity upgrades on its eastern side. In the longer-term, we’d also like to see consideration of a new cut-off line from the Forth Bridge through Fife in order to significantly improve journey times from the Central Belt to Aberdeen & Inverness.

For trips outwith Scotland, there also needs to be a programme of investment in Anglo-Scottish rail links. We take the view that this can be accomplished through a programme of incremental improvements, but that there should also be consideration of the merits of a stand-alone high-speed line from London northwards, providing journey time improvements for trips from Scotland to the south of England and onwards to the continent.

‘Inter-City Express’ is a joint campaign set up by Transform Scotland, Rail Freight Group, Capital Rail Action Group, Friends of the Far North Line, and the Scottish Association for Public Transport in an attempt to redress this imbalance.

Visit our ‘Inter-city Express’ webpage: