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Scotland's Railways

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Chapter 7 : Strategic outcomes

7. Strategic outcomes

7.1 The potential developments or enhancements to the rail network will contribute to the delivery of the strategic outcomes identified in the National Transport Strategy. These are:

  • Improving journey times and connections.
  • Improving quality, accessibility and affordability.
  • Reducing emissions.

7.2 When contributing to these, we will place customers at the centre and recognise the importance of their needs.

Improving journey times and connections

7.3 To attract more passengers and freight on to rail, the service on offer has to meet their needs and be attractive. In particular, passengers generally want a fast, regular, reliable service, with a pleasant customer experience. While we recognise that the key strength of rail is its ability to move high volumes of people, we must not lose sight of the needs of the individual when making train journeys.

7.4 We recognise that freight customers have differing needs. They want access to flexible and reliable services. The movement of freight also relies on the availability of flexible freight paths.

7.5 Both passengers and freight customers are concerned with the journey as a whole and not simply the rail part, so effective integration with other modes is essential. From this flows the following:

Timetables to suit customers and improved connections

7.6 Regular, frequent passenger services between each of our city regions that reflect travellers' needs. Inter-urban journey times that can compete with the car. Quality interchange stations where passengers from intermediate stations can connect with fast, inter-urban services. Flexibility must be maintained for freight customers, with the ability to create and relinquish paths in response to customer needs.

Improving quality, accessibility and affordability

7.7 Recognising the expected increased demand for both passenger and freight rail services, we should plan for growth, focusing particularly on where this will generate a significant impact on modal shift to rail. This will require not only developments to rail infrastructure but will depend on the availability of appropriate rolling stock and other equipment.

7.8 The current major projects are expanding the network considerably. Beyond these projects there are few obvious opportunities to add major new segments to the network. In the medium term we are therefore moving into an era where better utilisation of the existing network is likely to be the first choice in adding to rail infrastructure capacity. We will monitor and review service usage and consider redirecting resources where they will provide maximum benefit to communities and industry.

7.9 Planning policies should aim to maximise use of existing services and stations/terminals before considering any possible need for new ones. New stations will be considered where the surrounding population, workplace or visitor need is sufficient to generate a high level of demand, and would be expected to be serviced by feeder rather than inter-urban services.

7.10 We will encourage local partners to establish where station shops are required and sufficiently viable to encourage investment by retailers and local authorities in stations thereby improving station facilities for passengers. This will also potentially decrease the number of car trips following the journey by train and therefore help reduce emissions.

Sustained good performance

7.11 Reliable services that arrive on time, with accurate information provided at all times. Improvements have been made recently to the performance of the network in Scotland. We would expect a Public Performance Measure ( PPM) of over 90% to be maintained in the long term, with targeted action from Network Rail and the train operators where it falls below this level. A reliable and resilient infrastructure and reliable trains are critical for achieving this objective.


The rail industry in Scotland has made significant progress in driving down the root causes of train delay in recent years. This is reflected in the steady improvement in the Moving Annual Average Public Performance Measure figure for First ScotRail which stood at 84.5% of services less than 5 minutes late at period 10 in 2005/2006 compared to 82.6% at period 10 in 2004/2005.
Scotland Route Utilisation Strategy: Consultation Document

Evidence shows further improvement in performance. In the year ended August 2006, 87.2% of trains were on time.


Fares regulation

7.12 Current fares policy is set out in the First ScotRail Franchise Agreement, which was let by the Strategic Rail Authority and agreed with Scottish Ministers. As a consequence of the Railways Act 2005, Scottish Ministers now hold direct responsibility for future fares policy.

7.13 The current fares structure is a mixture of regulated and unregulated fares. Scottish Ministers can restrict the permitted increase on regulated fares while unregulated fares are set by the operator. Scottish Ministers have no control over the levels of unregulated fares.

7.14 We wish the fares structure to be easily understood by passengers, to encourage people to travel by rail and to be competitive, where possible, with other modes. We are currently reviewing fares policy and will seek to develop a new policy which encourages modal shift to rail.


More than a third of those responding to the consultation considered that the existing fares structure is too complicated. Three respondents considered the present fares structure is fine.
Review of Responses to Consultation on Rail Investment Priorities


Consistent good customer experience

7.15 The Service Quality Incentive Regime ( SQUIRE), which is designed to maintain consistently high standards has been progressively extended across the whole of Scotland. Consideration will be given to whether even higher quality standards should be applied to key stations. The standards should be regularly reviewed to ensure they meet changing customers' expectations. Choices on rolling stock replacement will be guided by customer needs and route requirements. As part of the Bus Action Plan performance related funding is being examined which will draw lessons from SQUIRE regime.

Reducing emissions

7.16 Scotland's Climate Change Programme Changing Our Ways quantifies for the first time Scotland's equitable contribution to UK commitments in devolved areas in carbon terms - the Scottish Share. It sets an ambitious Scottish target to exceed the Share by delivering an additional 1 million tonnes of carbon savings by 2010. Our National Transport Strategy aims to make a contribution to these savings.

7.17 Road transport accounts for the majority of emissions, around 2993 Kt carbon in 2003. Emissions from our railways are significantly lower at 30 Kt Carbon in 2003. Given the lower emissions from railways, we therefore seek to maximise the opportunities that rail provides to reduce emissions by encouraging modal shift away from the private car and air travel where possible.

7.18 Measures to encourage passengers or freight to shift from road and air to rail can be generally seen overall as positive for the environment, in particular as a result of the reduction in air pollutant and climate change emissions in these other sectors. However, we can do more through our technology choices when rolling stock replacements are being considered to reduce the life cycle maintenance costs of the network, and through improving load factors on both passenger and freight trains. We will encourage increasing use of electric passenger rolling stock and haulage of freight by electric locomotives where this is both cost effective and feasible, which will also deliver lower noise emissions as well as better air quality.

7.19 Effective integration with other transport modes will play a part in reducing total transport emissions. We will consider the expansion of parking facilities and the most appropriate means for making additional capacity available. Where there is the necessary capacity on rail services and local roads, we will expand park and ride facilities and, where appropriate, consider discounted fees for rail passengers. It is critical that station and service design makes interchange with other forms of public transport easier. We seek to encourage the use of feeder bus services to and from rail stations and more opportunities for passengers to walk or cycle to stations. These measures and integration of cleaner buses and trains will improve air quality.

7.20 In relation to freight, we wish to encourage modal shift from road to rail. The Executive's Freight Action Plan seeks to encourage the development of strategically located multi-modal freight terminals. We would encourage the appropriate development of sites with rail access to make best use of this limited number of sites and recognise the contribution such developments would make to reducing emissions, encouraging not just strategic improvements but a systematic approach to thinking of rail as a way of finding transport solutions for example through exploring the use of non-intrusive rail crossover systems.


Rail's share of the timber transport market is currently very low… There is, however, an increasing willingness among stakeholders to encourage rail use on environmental grounds…
Scotland Route Utilisation Strategy: Consultation Document


Where long distance passenger services have a limited number of intermediate stops, customers want easy connections to 'feeder' services.
Review of Responses to Consultation on Rail Investment Priorities


Improving access to stations by increasing car parking capacity and improving interchange to other modes. At certain key stations, facilities should be improved to encourage travellers to interchange between services.
Scottish Planning Assessment


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5 Many of the potential interventions outlined will encourage modal shift to rail and will therefore contribute to reducing emissions.

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