Rail Consultation

Transport Scotland today published a consultation on Rail 2014. I have been campaigning for better rail services for Dundee since I was elected. I will be reading the consultation and will be looking to respond to the consultation making the case for better services for Dundee. I would be keen to hear your views.

I will certainly be making the case for improvements to Dundee Station and also calling for more services to call at Dundee. The photograph shows Jim McGovern and I campaigning for better rail services in Dundee.

My colleague Lewis Macdonald MSP has highlighted a number of concerns. I think that these concerns which are outlined below could have a particularly poor impact on passengers in Dundee. A good railway system is important for Dundee's economic well-being. With the V & A at Dundee we should be looking to attract visitors by rail from all over Scotland and from England and Wales. I think that forcing passengers to change trains more would make Dundee a less attractive option as a destination.

The consultation suggests:

Cutting the number of trains to reduce the number of trains that are late

“for current passengers, reliability and punctuality of services is one of the top priorities. Accordingly, timetable adjustments could be made to increase the time journeys take which would allow more flexibility and thereby improve train performance levels, increasing the proportion of punctual trains. However increasing journey time may result in a reduction in the number of train services that can be provided.” (section 4.8)

Ramping up fares to tackle overcrowding

“Currently the fares mechanism is designed to encourage passengers to travel in the off-peak period, where they can. However the differential between peak and off-peak fares is generally too small to have any significant impact on changing behaviour. We are considering increasing the differential in order to free capacity in the peak period to accommodate future growth. Modelling indicates a differential of at least 20% between peak and off-peak fares would be required to have any significant effect on passenger behaviours.” (section 6.27)

Forcing cross-border passengers wanting to travel north of Edinburgh to change at Edinburgh

“We are therefore considering whether services north of Edinburgh should be provided by the Scottish franchisee, with Edinburgh becoming an interchange hub for cross-border services in the east of the country. In this scenario cross-border services would terminate at Edinburgh Waverley, with onward connections being provided by ScotRail.” (section 8.6)

Forcing long distance passengers to change more

“We consider that the franchisee could achieve greater efficiency in the deployment of its staff and rolling stock through increased flexibility in its operations. On some routes, longer-distance services could be replaced by a number of shorter-distance services terminating at an interchange station. We want rail to be attractive to passengers, so the impacts of adding a leg to a journey, would have to be thought through carefully, particularly in terms of passenger expectations, rolling stock and train crew.” (section 5.16)

Putting new limits on the number of passengers

“We are therefore considering whether we should include a measure for how many people can be carried on a train, as opposed to just relying on how many minutes a passenger may have to stand. The carrying capacity could for example be set at 105% on certain types of service. We envisage that this would only affect the peak services, and other methods, such as fares adjustments can help to alleviate crowding on these few services.” (section 5.6)