Highland Spring Rail Terminal: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

The financial amount given to provide the Highland Spring rail connection at Blackford. Details to include the amount for point and track work. Lifting and other terminal costs. Road and hard standing costs. What percentage of total expenditure was granted and what type of grant was used to fund this work.


A Freight Facilities Grant (FFG) of £4,469,000 was awarded to Highland Spring Limited in 2019. This grant contribution covers up to 50% of the eligible capital costs at the time of the application. The terminal is still under construction therefore, the FFG is not yet fully claimed however, the final FFG contribution will not exceed £4,469,000.

Information on the criteria for these capital grant awards can be found on Transport Scotland’s website Freight transport | Freight grants | Transport Scotland.

Wherever possible, we endeavour to provide all information requested however in this instance, an exemption under 33(1)(b) of FOISA (Substantial prejudice to commercial interests) applies to the request for a detailed breakdown of the FFG contribution by cost category. Providing a breakdown of costs would disclose commercially sensitive pricing information of several third parties which could impact on the industry’s ability to competitively tender for future projects.

Application of this exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Taking account of all the circumstances of this request, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate
however, there is a greater public interest in allowing third parties commercially sensitive information to be protected.

As part of a wider programme of improvements required to support the projected increase in both passenger and freight traffic, and potential electrification on this rail corridor, Transport Scotland asked Network Rail to develop options for a southern connection at the Highland Spring site to futureproof the wider rail network. The opportunity was taken to align the design and implementation of the southern connection with the Highland Spring works which in turn, helps meet the Scottish Government’s rail freight growth targets.

The costs of the southern connection to date are £8.619 million. This new connection enables quicker access on and off the rail network for the freight trains at Blackford which ensures capacity is not taken up this busy route.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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