NATIONAL PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR SCOTLAND
129. The Executive is committed to the delivery of significant improvements in passenger rail services. The reopening of the Airdrie _ Bathgate line will make a valuable contribution to the improvement of rail services across Central Scotland. The scope for providing the additional capacity required to support expanded services from Waverley Station in Edinburgh is being investigated. However, there is also a need to widen the range of services extending beyond Edinburgh and Glasgow and, in particular, to tie areas to the South and West of Glasgow more closely to major urban centres in the Central Belt. The Executive is supporting a feasibility study in respect of the Glasgow Crossrail project.
130. While marginal reductions in short journey times are not as important to passengers as punctuality and reliability, significant reductions in longer journey times can spread economic benefits more widely (see Map 19). Bringing Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Newcastle closer to the Central Belt and Aberdeen and Inverness closer to each other can do a lot to strengthen economic relationships between the city regions. The scope for developing functional relationships is significantly increased where travel times can be reduced below 60 minutes.
131. Scotland already has a well-developed road network. The focus over the next 10 years will be on completing the remaining gaps and using the existing network more efficiently. The M74 Northern Extension and the East End Regeneration Route will ease congestion and significantly increase accessibility on the east side of the Glasgow Conurbation. Completion of the M77 and the Glasgow Southern Orbital road will improve connectivity between the South-West and Glasgow and Central Scotland. The new Forth crossing at Kincardine will improve connectivity between West Central Scotland and Rosyth. The Western Peripheral Route will help to reduce congestion in Aberdeen city centre, improve connectivity between the North-East and the Central Belt and take heavy lorries off unsuitable country roads.
132. While there is scope for improving rail and air links in rural Scotland, many parts of the Highlands and the South of Scotland will continue to depend heavily on road transport. Route Action Plans will be used to deliver improvements to the long-distance network linking rural areas to the Central Belt.
Sustainable Transport and Land Use
133. Progress towards more sustainable modes and patterns of transport will involve the development of quick and efficient public transport networks to provide alternatives to car use, encouraging the transfer of freight traffic from road to rail and water, and the provision of the necessary intermodal facilities. The Executive wants to encourage a move away from thinking based on single modes of transport towards truly integrated door-to-door solutions. Over the next 25 years, pricing is likely to play an increasing role in the management of travel demand.
134. Scotland needs a high quality public transport infrastructure capable of meeting the demand for mobility and policies which encourage sustainable choices. The Executive is taking a range of measures to make public transport an attractive and realistic alternative to driving. It has initiated a programme of major investments in strategic public transport projects, including the development of a tram network in Edinburgh. It has established a Rural Transport Fund to improve public transport in rural areas, and invested in lifeline air and sea connections. For significant passenger flows between larger centres, rail is more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly than road transport. However, buses can provide a flexible and inclusive service and in many areas, particularly in rural Scotland, they are the only viable public transport option. The Executive has set a target of a 5% increase in bus passenger journeys by 2006.
135. The planning system can promote more environmentally sustainable patterns of transport and settlement by focusing new development on places which are well located in relation to existing public transport infrastructure. Urban renewal can help to counter out-migration from the cities and the trend towards long-distance car-based commuting. Development plans should identify key locations where well-planned, integrated development can benefit from and contribute to the further development of public transport services. Wherever possible, passenger interchange and park-and-ride facilities should be well integrated with existing centres.
136. Awards of grants for new freight facilities will remove more than 23 million lorry miles per year from Scotland's roads. 11 million has been allocated to the development of a new rail freight hub at Grangemouth. Re-opening the Stirling - Alloa - Kincardine line will provide a new rail freight route across Central Scotland. Moving coal between Hunterston and Longannet power station on this line will free capacity on the Forth Bridge for passenger services. Large quantities of timber are now being moved by rail and water.
137. Important nodes on the freight transport network include the Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Inverness areas and the Ayrshire Coast, Dumfries, and Stranraer/Cairnryan (see Map 18). The Opportunities for Developing Sustainable Freight Facilities in Scotland study recommends that a number of strategic freight interchanges should be developed to support modal shift. Significant freight-generating uses should be located as close to the rail network, strategic freight facilities and ports as possible.