Just transition for the transport sector: a discussion paper

This discussion paper is intended to support engagement on a just transition for the transport sector. Building on this engagement, a draft targeted action plan and route map (late 23/24) will outline the key steps to delivering a fair transition for the sector.

Annex A – Policy context

A range of policy interventions are already being implemented across the transport sector to reduce emissions and support a just transition. This document is ordered by travel mode to provide a sense of the different commitments underway in each area. These interventions are drawn from the following policy and strategy documents:

Active Travel – walking, wheeling and cycling

We are committed to promoting active travel to reduce reliance on higher carbon modes of transport and improve health outcomes. This approach includes a focus on promotion and improved co-ordination across transport modes to achieve behaviour and attitude change.

  • We have pledged at least £320 million a year or 10% of the total transport budget by 2024-2025 towards active travel infrastructure, access to bicycles, and to support behaviour change towards active travel.
  • Within the 2023-2024 budget, almost £190 million has been allocated to active travel.
  • We published a Cycling Framework for Active Travel in April 2023.

Car Usage and Electric Vehicles

In January 2022, we published a draft route map setting out how we will reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030.

  • This includes a range of non-transport policy interventions, including:
    • the provision of good connectivity and digital access to services
    • the way we plan and invest in our public places
    • where we locate key services such as healthcare
    • how we support our children and young people to make healthy and sustainable travel choices from an early age
  • The route map is not a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing car kilometres. The percentage reduction target is for an overall national reduction and will not expect car use in rural and island community areas to reduce at the same rate as in towns and cities.
  • Additionally, as outlined in the Programme for Government, we are committed to phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

Progress is already being made on increasing the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs), through investment on EV infrastructure and provision.

  • The Draft Vision for Scotland's Public Electric Vehicle Charging Network published last year is clear that significant private investment will be needed to grow the network at the scale and pace required across Scotland.
  • Scotland has the most comprehensive public charging network in the UK outside of London, with over 3,850 public charge points. Over 2,400 of these were funded through a £65 million investment in Charge Place Scotland.
  • Through our EV Infrastructure Fund, we will continue to work with local authorities and the private sector to invest a further £60 million in public charging across all of Scotland's communities over the next few years.
  • Our investment in public EV charging is in addition to the 20,000 domestic and business charge points already funded by the Scottish Government as part of the wider charging mix.
  • We continue to support low-income communities who are more likely to be experiencing transport poverty through funding to develop EV car clubs. To do so, this year we will begin distributing £1.75 million in grant funding via Energy Saving Trust. Car clubs have been shown to reduce emissions, both by the fuel efficiency of the vehicles and by individuals reducing the mileage that they drive.

Public Transport

We are working towards the decarbonisation of public transport to help reach our net zero targets, particularly in light of the role public transport will play in the future transport system. An accessible, affordable and effective public transport system is key to a just transition in the sector.

  • The Zero Emission Bus Market Transition Scheme, worth £500,000, supported organisations to understand the steps required to replace their bus fleet with zero emission alternatives. So far, the Scottish Government has awarded almost £113 million to support operators to acquire 548 new zero emission buses and supporting infrastructure, through the Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund and the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme.
  • 76% of Scotland's passenger rail services are already zero emission electric trains and the rest will be decarbonised by 2035.
  • Work continues to progress well by Transport Scotland, Network Rail and industry partners to deliver the key outcomes of the plan to make the traction elements of Scotland's railway carbon free by 2035. This will support faster journey times and better use of track capacity, and bring significant benefits for rail freight.
  • Scotland already has the most generous concessionary scheme in the UK, investing £300 million annually to provide free bus travel for over 2.6 million people, including everyone under 22 and over 60.
  • To date (June 2023) up to £26.47 million of bus priority funding has been awarded to 11 Partnerships covering 28 local authorities across Scotland through the Bus Partnership Fund. Investing in bus priority is key to tackling the impacts of congestion, making journey times shorter and services more reliable for passengers, encouraging people to leave their cars at home.
  • As part of the Fair Fares Review, a pilot for the removal of ScotRail peak-time rail fares will run for six months starting October 2023 which will benefit communities across Scotland. We are progressing the Fair Fares Review to ensure a sustainable and integrated approach to public transport fares that supports the future long term viability of a public transport system that is accessible, available and affordable for people throughout Scotland. The review is considering both the cost and availability of services and the range of discounts and concessionary schemes which are available on all modes including bus, rail and ferry to ensure our public transport system is more accessible, available, and affordable, with the costs of transport more fairly shared across government, business, and society.
  • Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), in partnership with Transport Scotland and CalMac, is commencing a major programme to replace up to 10 small vessels serving the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network, due to operational life expiry. Over the next 10 years, the programme aims to provide standardised, modern, state-of-the-art ferries with all-electric, emission-free operation on various routes along the West Coast of Scotland

Decarbonisation of heavy vehicles

  • Transport Scotland has brought together a Zero Emission Truck Taskforce (ZETT) comprising leaders across road haulage and logistics operators, manufacturing, energy, and finance sectors to identify the hurdles and opportunities offered by the transition to zero emission trucks. Using a Team Scotland approach, we are supporting innovation in the heavy duty supply chain by supporting projects with academia, R&D and investments for testing battery and hydrogen technologies. The public sector must continue to lead from the front: the number of ZEVs in local authority fleets has more than doubled over the last two years.
  • The Scottish Government's leadership in support for rail freight is outlined in our rail freight strategy and put into practice with significant investment and a first of a kind regulatory growth targets. Since 2019, freight capacity has been improved through electrification to the Grangemouth terminal, gauge clearance on the Shotts line, two new freight connections, a crossover at Aberdeen Craiginches and improvements to Inverness Needlefield yard. In addition, the £25 million Scottish Strategic Freight Fund has allowed us to test the infrastructure on the Highland Mainline for longer trains and to target key markets capable of modal shift.
  • In 2022/23 around 13 thousand trains moved over 4 million tonnes of goods, saving millions of lorry miles in Scotland, with 50% of these trains being electrically hauled.
  • Rail is already a sustainable mode of transport. One freight train can remove up to 129 lorries from our roads and an average diesel-hauled freight service produces 76% less CO2 per tonne than road transport and it emits less than one tenth of the nitrogen oxide and fine particulates of road haulage. Electric traction can reduce greenhouse gas emissions further and deliver even greater air quality improvements. It also increases the capacity and capability of the railway.
  • Our rail decarbonisation projects can create more skilled, sustainable jobs in Scotland. These jobs will be in the direct provision of electrification as well as in the supply of rolling stock and advanced technologies in the design of alternative traction methods to complement our electrification of the network.
  • There could also be opportunities through the Rail Cluster Builder project. This project links Scottish SMEs with rail manufacturers, contractors, academics, and research centres across the country to identify more environmentally friendly track and train solutions while raising awareness of the opportunities in the rail sector in Scotland.
  • The project, which is led by Scottish Engineering in partnership with Transport Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, is in its second phase and will run until 2025. The focus remains on connecting more Scottish businesses with rail sector organisations, strengthening and deepening relationships with key stakeholders across the sector and helping to create innovative, green solutions that will support the net zero targets set out in the Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan.

Low Emission Zones

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) will be introduced in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with local grace periods in effect until June 2024 at the latest.

  • LEZs are key to improving air quality and supporting Scotland's wider emission-reduction ambitions by encouraging more sustainable transport options.
  • The introduction of LEZs will ensure that all of us, but particularly the oldest, youngest and those with pre-existing medical conditions, are protected from the harmful impacts of poor air quality in our city centres.
  • To help prepare lower-income households and small businesses, the LEZ Support Fund offers financial support towards the disposal of non-LEZ compliant vehicles. It also offers 'Travel Better' grants to help households to switch to more sustainable modes of transport.
  • In 2020/2021 the LEZ Support Fund awarded £1.7 million in grants, with £3.85 million awarded in 2021/2022. £5 million was awarded through the LEZ Support Fund in 2022/2023. To date, the LEZ Support Fund has resulted in over 2,000 non-LEZ compliant vehicles being disposed of or retrofitted with cleaner technology.
  • The Bus Emission Abatement Retrofit fund (BEAR) has provided £21 million in grants for over 1,200 buses and coaches to reduce NOx and particulates, by retrofitting Euro 6 exhaust systems.


Email: justtransition@gov.scot

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