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Scottish Greens propose £22 billion rail revolution as part of coronavirus recovery

By Lorna Thompson

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A ScotRail train at Forres, on the Aberdeen-Inverness line. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
A ScotRail train at Forres, on the Aberdeen-Inverness line. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

THE Scottish Greens have proposed a £22 billion rail revolution, including significant upgrades to the Aberdeen-Inverness line, as part of the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Highlands and Islands MSP and transport spokesperson John Finnie said the party's Rail for All programme would create thousands of jobs while delivering infrastructure that is essential to tackling the climate emergency and supporting long-term economic prosperity.

They propose upgrades to the Aberdeen-Inverness line, including electrification, which would bring journey times to under one hour 45 minutes. This compares to the current fastest service of two hours nine minutes.

The plans would also see the re-integration of ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland into one publicly-owned company overseen by government.

Mr Finnie said: "The Scottish Greens are proposing the biggest rail investment programme Scotland has ever seen.

"Our proposals are fully costed and would transform our railway into a modern zero-carbon network accessible to all.

"The network has suffered from long-term, systemic under-investment, with successive governments favouring roads.

"Some improvements have been made in recent years but the network in the Highlands has been largely neglected.

"The maximum speed of 75mph between Aberdeen and Inverness is slow by Inter-City standards. Our plans to upgrade the line include electrification and would help bring the journey time between the two cities to under one and three-quarter hours.

"This report is all about making rail the natural choice for every journey. Whether your commuting, travelling for business or leisure, the railway should be the accessible and affordable choice.

"These plans will help turn that ambition into reality."

The Scottish Greens say as well as electrification on the long, single-track Aberdeen-Inverness line, dynamic loops, the removal of level crossings and lengthening stations would bring the journey time down.

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