Chapter 1 : Introduction
1.1 Rail has an important contribution to make towards achieving a safe, integrated, effective and efficient transport system for Scotland. Often offering fast journey times, the rail network provides a reliable and demonstrably attractive alternative to other modes of transport for example road, which will become more congested over the next 10-20 years and air. The rail network in Scotland supports economic growth, provides a quality inter-urban link between city regions in Scotland as well as links to major English cities and connects people to jobs and families, thus supporting local economies.
1.2 Rail is best at providing:
- Fast long-distance passenger services between our major urban centres.
- High quality commuter services into the major areas of employment, education and leisure activities.
- Rail freight services for regular high-volume and generally long distance flows.
1.3 Rail devolution is the biggest transfer of power to Scotland from Westminster since 1999. It has given Scottish Ministers the power to set the vision for the railways in Scotland and the funding to make it happen through Network Rail and the ScotRail franchise working in partnership with other freight and passenger operating companies. Approximately £358 million per annum was transferred to Scottish Ministers to cover all the additional transport responsibilities devolved with effect from 1 April 2006.
1.4 Our primary aims in Scotland's Railways are to:
- Support our high level objective to promote economic growth by focusing on our rail network moving large volumes of people quickly and reliably within and between our city regions as a priority.
- Support our high level objective to protect the environment and improve health by recognising the role of rail as an integral part of Scotland's National Transport Strategy and the contribution rail makes to a sustainable, efficient and effective transport system which minimises the impact of travel on the environment. We will do so with full regard to Scotland's Sustainable Development Strategy Choosing Our Future and to Scotland's Climate Change Programme Changing Our Ways.
1.5 The purpose of Scotland's Railways is to:
- Summarise the evidence base relating to our railways.
- Set out the key challenges ahead.
- Set out our vision for rail in Scotland.
- Set out how we will deliver that vision.