£22 billion plan could ‘transform the geography’ of Scotland


THE Scottish Greens have unveiled proposals for a £22 billion ‘revolution’ of Scotland’s rail system which the party says would bring a modern, zero carbon network that is affordable to all.

The party said that its Rail for All programme should be a central part of Scotland’s green recovery from Covid-19, with the plan promising to create thousands of jobs while providing infrastructure which would tackle the climate emergency.

A key part of the proposals is a new cross Forth rail tunnel, which the party said would ‘transform’ journeys between Edinburgh and Fife as well as up the east coast to Dundee and Aberdeen and north to Perth and Inverness.

Further proposals in the plan are:

  • A new underground station in Leith connecting the 50,000 population to the wider Scottish economy as part of the under-Forth scheme.
  • Construction of a new overground terminal station at St Enoch’s (Argyle Street) in Glasgow.
  • Full electrification of the inter-city network by 2030 to allow the current rolling-stock to be replaced with modern high-performance electric trains.
  • Replacing outdated rural rolling stock with electric battery-powered trains.
  • Ensuring where realistically possible every town with a population of over 5,000 is connected to the rail network.
  • Upgrading the Highland Main Line, the Far North Line, West Highland Line and the Ayr – Stranraer Line, reopening the Dunfermline to Alloa route and opening new stations across the country.
  • Introducing tramtrains which can run on streets and on traditional rails for cross-city transit for instance in Aberdeen between Ellon and Banchory.
  • Redoubling congested single-track lines including the Milngavie and Balloch branches.
  • Significantly boosting capacity to allow a more efficient and sustainable shift of freight from road to rail.

John Finnie MSP, of the Scottish Greens, said, “The Scottish Greens are proposing the biggest rail investment programme Scotland has ever seen. Our fully-costed £22 billion plan would transform Scotland’s railway, building a modern, zero-carbon network that is affordable and accessible to all.

“Rail for All is about making rail the natural choice for every journey. Whether you’re commuting, travelling for business or leisure.

“The investment would also be a central component of Scotland’s green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, creating thousands of quality, unionised jobs whilst delivering the infrastructure so necessary to tackle the climate emergency.

The Rail for All programme is based on an expert report commissioned from Deltix Transport Consulting by John Finnie MSP.

David Spaven, the principal of Deltix Transport Consulting, commented, “Based on our long experience in the industry – and taking account of international best practice – we put together a programme focused not just on rail’s crucial contribution to decarbonisation, but also on the wide range of other environmental, social and economic benefits it offers. The great thing about Rail for All is that it serves the whole of Scotland and is both achievable and a game-changer – and can deliver many of the benefits in the first decade.”

Commenting on the biggest single project in the plan, Deltix Associate David Prescott, who co-wrote the report, added, “At a stroke the Forth Tunnel can transform the geography of Scotland, just as the Forth Bridge did 130 years ago and the Forth Road Bridge nearly 60 years ago. It would substantially cut the distance between Edinburgh and east Fife, Dundee, Aberdeen Perth and Inverness, whilst also putting Leith at the heart of the Scottish rail network. The Forth Tunnel would give this generation of Scottish engineers the opportunity to continue the strong traditions of their illustrious predecessors – creating transformational infrastructure for the nation.”