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Response on "Towards a National Transport Strategy for Scotland - Rail Priorities"

The responses below are those of members of The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport(UK) Scottish Policy Group who have contributed to the discussion on "Towards a National Transport Strategy for Scotland - Rail Priorities"

The Policy Group of Scottish Region of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport(UK) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Executive's consultation on Rail Priorities. It is felt that some of the questions are such that they may be better addressed in detail by others, particularly with respect to local matters. The responses to questions therefore, generally deal with the broader issues affecting transport needs for Scotland.

Rail must be seen as contributing, along with other modes, to meeting the needs of freight and passenger movement within Scotland and to other parts of the UK and further afield. The inputs from the work done on the "Scottish Planning Assessment" are seen as highly relevant to the future contribution that rail can make to the growth of the Scottish economy. Account must also be taken of anticipated market changes in the passenger and freight sectors.

To ensure that future investment is delivered economically it is seen as necessary to subject proposals to STAG appraisal. This should ensure that cost benefits arising from factors such as social inclusion, health and environmental considerations can be captured.

Question 1 (a)
Unless there are major new industrial complexes, freight facilities or residential developments planned, for which significant new infrastructure is required, it is likely that incremental development of the existing network will be the way ahead. The Route Utilisation Strategies (RUS) being evaluated by Network Rail will highlight pinch points in the rail network where incremental investment may allow more trains to be scheduled or performance to be improved. Network Rail should also be encouraged to look closely at infrastructure renewals to assess where speed, performance or capacity benefits may result from the replacement of life expired assets in modern equivalent form. Platform lengthening should also be considered where this can accommodate growth without creating serious problems at terminals. Where potential new flows are identified e.g. the Hunterston Container Port or further expansion of coal imports (subject to the assessment of carbon emissions) the incremental approach should be assessed before consideration is given to new infrastructure projects.

Question 1 (b)
This is a very broad question and there are likely to be many specific proposals put forward relating to the use of rolling stock and infrastructure. The major strategic consideration at this stage is the maintenance of the Glasgow and South Western route from Ayr via Mauchline to Gretna as a high capacity, high axle load freight route. This has particular relevance to exports/imports through Hunterston. Additional passenger services which open up new markets may be worth considering e.g. later services or a regular Fife to Glasgow service. Of more local significance, the closure of little used stations, particularly in the Central Belt should be considered. This will reduce journey times for the majority and will benefit train performance. In the longer term (say, 20 years) a TGV type route from London to Central Scotland via the Midlands and the North West/North East of England and/or Yorkshire could give opportunities for a significant change of use for both the East and West Coast Main Lines. However, a dedicated high speed passenger line between Edinburgh and Glasgow is not seen as a worthwhile project on its own.

Question 2 (a)
It is important to ensure, that as far as is reasonable, rail use is not inhibited by concerns relating to security and staffing at stations or by a lack of parking at or close to them. Perhaps development of land close to stations should be permitted with a condition that parking must be provided. Charges for parking may be necessary in some locations, particularly where non-rail related use is a risk. However, a consistent approach should be taken across Scotland and consideration given to a refund of part or all of the parking charge where a rail ticket is purchased. Facilities should be provided where justified for the safe storage of cycles.

Question 2 (b)
Research over the years has generally shown that punctuality and reliability are priorities for users of public transport although, where service frequency is high, this factor becomes more closely identified with waiting time. This will remain the priority but the so-called hygiene factors will feature more in the list of priorities as performance improves. Factors such as, cleanliness, comfort etc must be maintained at a high standard to retain customers whose standards are set by the environment of the modern car. This is particularly true for the business customer who expects high standards. Appropriate refreshment facilities are essential on longer journeys, say those in excess of 45 minutes duration. It is also necessary to give the added value to business passengers of an "office" environment where mobile phones and laptops can be used. This extra working time compared to driving or flying may be critical in developing this market. A further area where improvement can be achieved is in the provision of information both before and during the journey. Access to timetable information and booking facilities via the internet is now essential.

Question 2 (c)
For the majority of freight customers, a reliable transit time is vital and in some cases a fast transit for time sensitive commodities is also important. It is essential, therefore, that freight paths are as robust as those for passenger trains. For the freight train operating companies the economical use of their resources of staff, locomotives and freight wagons depends on robust timetables. The use of "conditional" train paths which can be accommodated within the timetable without significant effect on performance should be continued and they should be available to freight or open access operators.

Question 2 (d)
With transit times to London and Birmingham typically in excess of 4 hours, the business traveller will be less inclined to use rail despite the long end to end time for air (see 2 (b) above). Use of cross border trains is likely to be dominated by the leisure traveller except on the shorter journeys such as Edinburgh to Newcastle. The market for major city to major city business travel may therefore, be insufficient to sustain limited stop services to London. There could, however, be a case for looking at some form of two tier service in the morning and evening such that London bound trains call at principal station only and cross country services call at the intermediate stations. This could provide "business friendly" services at least as far south as the Yorkshire and Lancashire conurbations to destinations such as Sheffield and Liverpool. The potential down side to this is a risk of over-crowding on some cross country services. It is felt that the current Euston to Edinburgh service contributes little to access from Edinburgh and detracts from a more frequent and regular interval Glasgow to Euston service. The benefits of the overnight services to London need to be emphasised and day/night packages may attract the business traveller. Changes should be performance neutral.

Question 2 (f)
Generally, market pricing is an appropriate way to generate additional passengers for lightly used services, for example, between peaks. In the Central Belt, there may be a case for looking at zone fares across the Glasgow and Edinburgh commuting area embracing bus and ferry as well as rail travel. This will avoid the disincentive of two or more fare transactions which normally accompany a change of mode. There is a need to address the historic variation in fares policy between services within the Strathclyde Passenger Transport area and those outside it or crossing the boundary. A three tier fare structure may be justified on routes with heavy commuter flows to ensure a more even use of resources. This could be achieved by introducing lower shoulder peak fares applicable say, for an hour on either side of the normal morning and evening peak times. Such measures will have to be considered along with periods of validity for off-peak fares. For longer distance routes, the use of yield management has been used by airlines and train operators to fill off-peak seats and its use should be considered within Scotland to differentiate market segments.

Question 3 (a)
The railway in Scotland is now predominantly a passenger railway and prioritisation will, first and foremost, be between different types of passenger services. The grouping of fast services will generally allow best use of the infrastructure and create the greatest opportunity for stopping passenger and freight services, to be operated at minimum risk to performance. The heavily used freight routes are readily identifiable. Here and elsewhere on the network the RUS work mentioned in question 1 (a) will be the driver for prioritisation which may lead to alternative routing strategies as well as proposals for incremental investment. The suggestion that prioritisation should be driven by maximising the benefit to the Scottish economy is accepted where there is no option available by alternative routing, renewal with improvement or investment.

Question 3 (b)
The general presumption in this question is supported but circumstances may arise where social inclusion and environmental considerations take precedence. However, there needs to be a review process for anticipated demand, since this may not follow forecasts and may be overtaken by new markets, particularly in the freight sector.

Question 3 (c)
The business growth criteria are accepted subject to due consideration being given to environmental impact, health and social inclusion.

Question 3 (d)
Priorities are already varied by time of day in that additional services are provided on certain routes during the morning and evening peaks. This should continue with a preference in the future for running longer trains where this is feasible rather than additional services. This is likely to have less impact on performance. Between the peaks and in the evening, paths for freight services will be available in place of the additional peak services. Consideration should be given to running freight trains to timings as close to stopping services as is feasible to minimise their impact on route capacity. The principle of even intervals for passenger services should, in general, be maintained so that patterns of services remain simple to understand. The use of seasonal services for both passenger and freight is supported, where this can be achieved within normally available resources but the passenger environment on seasonal services must meet the expectations of customers, who are likely to be on board the train for lengthy periods.

Question 3 (e)
The proposed measures for economic benefit are supported. Additional quantifiable measures relating to carbon emissions may be worthy of development as well as continuing to evaluate HGV miles avoided for freight grant submissions. With rising oil prices, consideration should be given to assessing the case for further electrification and the use of hybrid power units or battery locomotives for short trips or shunting.

Question 3 (f)
STAG appraisal techniques and the evaluation of the impact of social inclusion factors and carbon emissions as in 3 (e) above, may enable serious comparisons to be made. A holistic approach to evaluation is essential given future risks associated with climate change and oil prices.

Question 4 (a)
As indicated in the introduction, it is felt that other respondents will be more able to comment on specific changes to services.

Question 4 (b)
The issue of tickets embracing rail, ferry and bus travel either within zones or for longer journeys has already been mentioned. Where land is available adjacent to major stations, consideration should be given to locating bus stations adjacent to the railway station where this can be achieved economically. Similarly access for disabled passengers and those with cycles should be provided, where this is feasible. Consideration should also be given to aligning changes to bus and ferry timetables to the summer and winter timetable change dates on the railway and to publishing, perhaps only electronically, a Scotland wide passenger timetable embracing all modes.

Question 4 (c)
Development of the rail network should be focussed on rail's strengths in high volume markets.


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