The independence train to better transport

Derek Bateman has been having a wee bit of a moan today about the general crappiness of Scottish public transport. He makes some very good points, public transport in the United Kingdom still suffers from the Thatcher effect. Maggie reputedly considered that if you were still taking the bus by the time you were 30, you were a failure in life. Maggie’s policies condemned generations to sit at the back of the UK bus. The UK has been following her failure for over 30 years.

Although the quote didn’t actually originate with Thatcher, it’s a fair assessment of the attitude of successive UK governments towards public transport – which whether Tory or Labour only consider investment in public transport to be desirable if it benefits business travellers. They’re not interested in the needs of a single parent who only wants to get to Asda. Our transport policy is decided by a political class that doesn’t need to use public transport.

On the day that Edinburgh’s tram service restarts after a 60 year hiatus, it’s time to have a wee look at Scottish public transport, and whether we’re really better together with the privatised routes to a closed terminus the country has been put on.

Public transport in the UK is the most expensive in Europe. When the Conservatives privatised the railways in the 1990s, we were promised greater efficiency and choice. Instead we got higher prices and reduced services on non-profitable routes. The average cost of a train journey is on average 50% higher than a comparable journey made elsewhere in Europe. According to the pressure group Passenger Focus, in 2009 the average ticket price for a train journey of three to ten miles was £1.85 in France, £2.52 in Spain, £5.08 in Germany, and £6.92 in the UK. If our public transport was 50% more efficient, 50% quicker than elsewhere in Europe, or had 50% better density of lines than elsewhere, that might be a 50% worth paying. But it isn’t. We pay more for less.

Thanks to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd, rail transport in Scotland and Wales is cheaper per mile than equivalent journeys made in England.  England has the most expensive rail transport in Europe.  But with limited budgets which are determined by overall government expenditure in England, there is also a limit to how much the devolved administrations can ameliorate the damage done to a railway network which has been sent down the wrong track by successive UK governments.

An open return from London to Norwich, a distance of 117 miles, costs an eye-watering £108. The same ticket from Glasgow to Aberdeen, a distance of 135 miles, costs £67.10. However in Spain, an equivalent ticket for a journey between Madrid and the city of Valladolid – about 111 miles – costs approximately £30. The return trips work out at 46p per mile in England, 24.8p per mile in Scotland, and just 13.6p per mile in Spain – and the Spanish trip is a journey made on a brand spanking new high speed railway line.

It will take you up to three hours to travel from Glasgow to Aberdeen by train, but only 56 minutes to get from Madrid to Valladolid. The European high speed railway network stretches all the way from Málaga to London, but goes no further. The UK has only the vaguest of intentions of extending it to Scotland, sometime after 2030 maybe perhaps possibly, and none at all of extending it within Scotland. And this is in what they keep telling us is Europe’s strongest economy and the greatest Union of countries the universe has ever seen. It’s evidently a better together universe that hasn’t got high speed trains. The only high speed vehicles Scotland gets from Westminster are the ballistic nuclear delivery systems based on the Clyde.

It’s not actually that easy to dicover how much a train ticket is going to cost you in the UK. The traveller is faced with a bewildering range of websites offering special limited tickets which have to be booked a month in advance when the moon is in conjunction with Network Rail. Travelling to Marr in Aberdeenshire is more complicated than a manned voyage to Mars. Or you can call for advice, and get through to someone in a call centre in Chennai who doesn’t know where Aberdeen is.

We have a railway network which does not reach many of our important towns, and which does not connect to large tracts of the country. The paucity of available routes means that work on a line closes the system down as train services cannot be re-routed, meaning that buses bearing the destination “Choo choo I’m a train” are often more common than trains themselves. We’re being systematically ripped off by UK transport policies, which eat up public subsidies for private gain. That’s why they’re called chew-chews.

Our roads are little better, a patchwork of potholes and cart-tracks. Work is only just due to start on the missing link in the M8 motorway linking Scotland’s two largest cities – 50 years after the first motorway was opened the direct route between our capital city and our largest city remains incomplete. There are currently no plans to build a motorway connecting Aberdeen, Scotland’s third largest city and the centre of the vital hydrocarbons industry, with the rest of the country. Meanwhile the Highlands are even worse served, in any normal country the A9 to Inverness should be the M9, an efficient and well maintained motorway. Instead it’s a road which is single carriageway over much of its length and notorious for its accident blackspots. Kintyre and Cowal are regularly cut off from the rest of the country due to landslides blocking the A83.

Within our cities the public transport systems are not much better, the bus services do not integrate efficiently with commuter rail, and – Edinburgh trams aside – there are no light railway systems. Routes connect with city centres, but do not connect other parts of the city with each other. In Glasgow for example, there are plenty of east-west routes connecting the city centre, but you can’t get a bus from most of the East End to Cambuslang, which face one another across the river Clyde, or from Easterhouse to Tollcross. Often you have to travel into the city centre and back out again. Integrated public transport systems are effectively non-existent in Scotland, that’s a national disgrace in a country which aims to lead the world in combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions.

In an integrated transport system, you’d get a bus from the end of your street a short distance to the local metro station, and then using the same ticket you’d continue your journey to your final destination. In Scotland, following the UK’s rampant privatisation model, trains, trams and buses all compete with one another instead of acting in concert.

Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, has a extensive system of bus routes, a metro system with 11 lines, a number of commuter lines run by the national railway operator, two tram systems with three lines each (and a plan to connect the two systems through the city centre), and a number of heritage routes and funicular railways. The metro and bus routes are administered by a single body, and there are plans to integrate the tram systems and rail lines better with the rest of the system.

The greater Glasgow area is roughly comparable in terms of area and population, Glasgow has the second largest commuter rail network in the UK, a single line subway which has never been extended since it was first opened in 1896, and a system of bus routes which are only accidentally integrated with either the commuter rail or the subway. The buses, subway and trains are all administered separately. A bus ticket isn’t valid on the subway, and a ticket for neither is valid on the local train network. To get from where I live in Glasgow to Byres Road in the West End of the city involves a bus journey costing £1.95 and then you have to buy a subway ticket for £1.40. The total cost is £3.35. In Barcelona an equivalent journey costs £1.75, you buy your ticket on the bus then use the same ticket on the Metro.

The lack of a joined up transport policy is a symptom of decades without joined up thinking in UK government which is only interested in public transport in London. Scotland’s resources have helped to pay for the Docklands Light Railway, London Crossrail, and the new high speed line to Birmingham. Meanwhile we’re stuck in the slow lane. Commuters in the north of England fare even worse.

Even small projects are delayed for years. The proposal for a Glasgow Crossrail service has been on the table for years, and is constantly delayed due to a lack of funding. All such a service requires is the construction of a short chord less than half a kilometre in length to connect the line to Queen Street low level with railway routes to the south west of Scotland. The project would open up the railway system in the West of Scotland allowing for direct and easy connections between Ayr and Edinburgh, and would make the Glasgow Airport link worthwhile. Funding the project must come solely from the Scottish budget. Meanwhile London Crossrail involves digging a tunnel 10 miles long underneath a densely populated city, the project counts as a UK national project and is paid for by everyone in the UK. That’s the project which is underway, Glasgow Crossrail remains a distant dream.

Although transport policy is devolved to Holyrood, the overall budget is still set by Westminster. Cuts to transport funding in England have knock on effects in the Scottish budget. Independence offers the chance of a renaissance of Scottish public transport. Scotland doesn’t have the powers to renationalise the railways or end the insanity of private bus companies creaming off the profitable routes. The country which once built trains for countries all over the world is now a rusty branch line. We deserve better, and Scotland is rich enough to afford much better.

A modern and comprehensive transport system is vital to boosting the Scottish economy. The only reason we have such poor and expensive services is because of Westminster. Our transport policies have been decided by generations of politicians who think getting a bus after the age of 30 means you’re a failure in life. It’s time to put an end to that. Let’s wave goodbye to the traffic jam of Westminster, the independence train can take us on a journey to a properly integrated approach to Scottish public transport.



0 thoughts on “The independence train to better transport

  1. Pingback: The independence train to better transport | pictishbeastie

  2. A very, very important burst of barking from The Dug. You are spot on with one of the biggest scandals of our appallingly governed status. Scotland has a relatively compact area of city population with potentially swift and easy internal links – except we don’t. This is the direct result of transport policies which have ignored all our needs, not only because everything in the UK is centred on London but, let’s be honest, worse than that, because there has been a policy of neglect and grudging accommodation in which Scotland’s needs have been last in the queue – or (I lived and worked in the SW of England too) close to last in the queue. The M8, M9 and M?? (search-me-sunshine to Aberdeen and Aberdeen to Inverness) scandals are all prefigured in the decades it took to complete the West coast motorway routes across the Border and the still total absence of an East coast motorway to do the same thing. We will NEVER get the transport system we even half deserve from Westminster most of whose members regard Scotland as a distant irrelevance at best or as an upper-class playground at worst. Bark on, Paul – and well done that dug.

  3. Reeling from all that public transport expertise but on a much lower key ( and o/t). My yespaper delivery colleague this morning showed me his scars from a wee red dug hanging off his finger. Can you tell other wee red dugs to be careful?

    • Wee Apricot dug will lick you to death but then he never gets out the front door, or well nearly never. Has been known to jump up on postie and delivery man to ensure they know he is here. Yes Newspaper man will have to come to Fife though and many many of my lad’s breed here now.

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  5. Accurate assessment of uncoordinated public transport in Scotland .
    However on the bright side there is a new route for 2015 which has been made possible with considerable funding via Holyrood. On time & on a budget of £298M the Beeching axed Waverley line will reopen and once more provide a service from the Borders to Midlothian & Edinburgh. No mean feat in terms of construction & political will power.
    On the other hand I refrain from commenting on the £800M Edinburgh Tram shambles.

    • I’m too much in mourning to mention the Edinburgh tram shambles. Trams are an ideal solution to public transport problems in Scottish cities, but after the Edinburgh debacle no Scottish city is going to get public support for a new tramway for at least a generation.

  6. Not a moan about a Scotland but the UK in general. I travel often to the Czech Republic and albeit a former communist state the trains are brilliant. Really cheap, trains like Amtrak with big leather seats, buffet cars etc. if this country can turn around its transport then with Transport being devolved to Scotland we surely could do better. come on Scotland, you have been so used to putting up with second class services you don’t realise how bad it has got. If you had control over your transport you would surely do so much better.

  7. Great that we are getting a new Waverley line but unfortunately it’s too far from many people in the Borders to use. Lack of buses, you see. My nearest bus is seven miles away. Appreciate we need motorways and efficient communication between our major cities, but don’t forget the need for rural transport. We rely heavily on cars, and on the internet (for shopping as well as blog reading) though often the air is blue with speed problems.

    And for those at the end of a ferry journey life can be even more difficult as the cost of everything in local shops is more expensive. Couriers also have an annoying habit of regarding parts of mainland Scotland as islands, so providing them with an excuse to hike their charges and extend the length of delivery periods.

    We need to aim for a Scotland where no-one is disadvantaged because of where they stay. Not easy, but other countries try to level the playing field.

    • Where are you at, Jings? There are tentative but I think fully plausible plans to return the Waverley to Hawick and I’d bet my shirt on it being their inside ten years if the vote’s Yes. I think Hardengreen to Peebles is starting to make a lot more sense now too.

    • Jingsandthings, have to agree with you and was about to write and say this. Mother in Law was in Border’s General a couple of years ago and was fortunately there during all the better weather, so living as we do in Fife we had a bit of a journey. What we would have done without a car I do not know, we would have had a horrendous journey and one which would have taken all day.
      My pet subject is the lack of infrastructure in Scotland, lack of public transport though things have improved a little. Before we got married in the seventies it took forever for me to visit my now husband in Penicuik on a Sunday from my bit of Edinburgh, it now at least has Lothian Transport buses.
      The Tram system should never have been taken up, but short sightedness is the trademark of Britain. Of course we could have bult the new one cheaper but the Labour Party and friends do nothing cheap.
      The Rail network was destroyed to bring it up to date? No roads were put in place unlike the motorway network in England. Notice the lack of three lane motorways in Scotland?
      Now for my other favourite subject single track roads in the Highlands and the fact that there are people who would love us to remain as a sort of Disney Land so the tourists can marvel at the quaintness. Trouble is that people live along these single track roads and they pay more in the form of fuel tax for that privilege, so lets get rid of them.
      All our cities need to be connected, by rail and road (sorry to the greens, they do their nut about roads).
      Thanks to both Paul and to Derek for allowing me to blow my stack on this subject, yes we are better together, so we can show the English to be so generous to it’s last colony. Aye right.

  8. Aye, Paul. It is enormously sad that the Edinburgh Tramway project turned into such a thermonuclear clusterfuck, it truly is. I personally consider the urban tramway system to be an indicator of a civilised nation.
    Like the USA, the UK utterly vandalised its public transport network from the late 1950s on.
    Naturally however, we can see a predictable pattern in the wake of the 1963 Beeching report which led to the savaging of so many route miles; very little closure and hardship took place in the south east of England, whereas, the axe, such as it was, swung with gleeful abandon around the “perpiheries” in an eerie foretaste of what was to happen to the rest of our heavy industry less than two decades later.
    Many of Scotland’s more remote areas are still blighted by the actions of those in power at the time. It’s no secret that the Minister of Transport in those days, Ernest Marples, was enormously compromised in his post by being Chairman of Marples-Ridgway, a large civil engineering firm with lots of lucrative government contracts for the building of the motorway network. If that has a familiar ring about it, you will not be surprised to learn that he fled the UK in 1967 after being tipped off that he was about to be hauled in for tax evasion. Plus ca change!
    Anyway the legacy of that era is self evident in the still disjointed Scottish railway system. You rightly state, Paul, that it takes three hours to travel from Glasgow to Aberdeen by train.
    That’s no quicker than 1966 when there was a more direct route between the two cities and the crack trains were still hauled by streamlined steam engines! If that route were reactivated and electrified with nice ‘Javelin’-style trains, I’m pretty sure the journey could be done in two hours.
    Although the issues with the A9 are well documented, there is a similar situation in the south west where the A75 has ‘Euro-Route’ status but is still single carriageway in many sections and heavily used by freight traffic from Ireland. There used to be a railway between Dumfries and Stranraer, but it closed in 1965 under the Beeching plan and like the Borders and the famous Waverley Route, promised road improvements were only implemented in piecemeal fashion, if at all.
    Now my friends, some of whom also read your blog are already bored to tears hearing what’s coming next from me ( 😉 ) but I think it’s potentially a very useful idea. In Austria and Switzerland in particular, there exists what is known as the ‘Rollbahn’ system where heavy goods vehicles are driven on to low loader rail vehicles and then hauled as a complete train to the end of the relevant route. Now, I imagine HGVs heading for Ireland pulling off the M6 at Gretna to the eastern terminal, being driven onto such a train and then hauled through Dumfries onto the reactivated route all the way to Stranraer where there was once a line leading to Cairnryan. Here, the Irish wagons could drive straight off the train onto the ferry. It would require certain enhancements to the existing rail infrastructure from Gretna to Dumfries but the trade-off would be vastly reduced HGV traffic on the A75 and greater public safety as a result. Due to its international status, perhaps some funding might be available from Dublin and Belfast since it could well reduce transit times for goods.
    Another blight of rural Scotland is timber traffic and I’m pretty sure more could be done to get this increasingly on to rail but it will require independence to apply real imagination to this particular problem. You only need to compare the number of re-openings of lines in Scotland since 1999 (Larkhall, Stirling-Alloa, Airdrie-Bathgate, Waverley northern end) to that over the same period in England (Big Fat Zero) to understand that Westminster is completely shit at transport and Holyrood is at least trying to be better. I agree that Glasgow Crossrail is a no-brainer and it has been talked about at least since 1988. We are at least beginning the act of catching up with our mainland neighbours in terms of electrification though and at least in Glasgow south will complete the local jigsaw when EK and Kilmarnock finally get wired up in the next couple of years.

    Do you think the FM would be interested in my ‘Galloway Rollbahn’? 😉

      • I forgot to add – the last remaining section of the old trackbed of the Switchback railway line in the East End is shortly to be tarmacked over and turned into an arterial road. It could have been a rail corridor linking the Glasgow-Airdrie-Edinburgh line with services to the north of Glasgow, and made into a part of an effective North-South Crossrail – but no, Glesca cooncil wants to encourage more cars.

    • Max

      Are the EK and Kilmarnock lines really getting electrified in the next couple of years? My understanding is that they are the only routes in West Central Scotland that won’t be electrified.

      • I’ve seen items in the railway press about it in recent times. I think TS and Network Rail see the obvious logic. Both routes are considered a single operational unit and that’s the basis for the plan upgrade the routes simultaneously.

    • I recall that either the Thatcher or Major Governments were offered substantial EU funding to resurrect the Galloway line as a Euroroute. Naturally they turned this down.

      • I read of studies round about 1990. That outcome doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
        As someone who has followed such things all my adult life, I can cite from personal experience one extremely tangible difference between Westminster and Scotland.
        In the ’80s and ’90s I used to often read of re-opening schemes that never, ever progressed beyond talk. You became conditioned to pessimism and low expectation when you heard matters of rail development spoken of. And the about ten years ago once Holyrood had control of transport, things started to change and suddenly i and others began to notice that talk was turning into action as routes began to re-open.
        Meanwhile, in England, outside the South East the talk continues…

  9. Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    On a day when the much derided (but should never have been removed in the first place) tram system costing £1 billion was opened in Edinburgh, in a week when we are told that Scotland couldn’t possibly afford the (highly questionable figure of ) £1.5 billion it might take to create new government departments, please read this excellent low-down on the nasty state of public (private) transport in Scotland.

  10. I’m late to the party but as I will be using the M8 (boo!) and Forth road bridge a lot in the next couple of weeks I know exactly what you write about.

    And what about Strathclyde Partnership for Transport? I thought they were supposed to be the joined up thinking people. But when you look at who is or who were running it there are no surprises about their incompetence.

    On a much more positive note. It is nice to see the New Forth Crossing beginning to take shape. One of the columns in the middle is getting to be quite a good height. At least we can now see what the money is being spent on.

  11. You and Derek have opened the floodgates here. Any political party which was committed to a modern integrated transport system would be a shoo-in in Scotland (and you can add internet infrastructure to that – in fact any vital national network is too important to be left to the greed of private monopoly). Maxstafford’s comments are spot on too. Freight used to be mainly carried by rail and the Austrian/Swiss example he mentions shows what is possible when administrations manage transport for the good of the citizens rather than private gain of their financial backers. I’ll not go into nightmare train journeys I have had, everyone will have their own woeful experience – a Truth and Reconciliation committee might be needed here!

  12. One of my hobby horses has long been this. If we are equal partners in a union how come there’s a motorway and main line railway near every significant city and town in England and we still have the A83 and A82 trying to connect the Western third of the country? And a railway line that is more reminiscent of the Rev Awdry. Thomas the Sprinter hits a landslide and the replacement bus along the B79999 takes the rest of the day.

    You make a good point about the underground that also looks like it is set 1 in the “build a subway sets: set 1 a wee circle”. Scotland has huge infrastructure issues, some of them are on the way to being fixed but I don’t remember building average speed cameras being top of my list at any point.

    SPT needs reform, although to be fair at the moment areas like Wales are faced with the wholesale abandonment of public transport as a consequence of cuts instigated by Westminster policy. But SPTs biggest failing is it’s close association with Glasgow Cooncil style unaccountability. Woops did I just drop a million quid, how careless of me. Some of us remember the electric buses that couldn’t get up Hope Street. What happened to those by the way? They can’t have got very far…..

    Poor Aberdeen has waited for a decent road round it for a very long time. For an oil capital it’s more Dunoon than Dallas and it’s important that where the money is made is given the tools it needs to thrive. It looks and is a poor relation to the main two cities (I don’t include Dundee because it’ll be great when it’s finished, although it’s been under construction since 1928….. ).

    And lets face it it’s easier to get to Belgium than to Shetland which is why I’ve been to one and not the other.

    Lots and lots to be done and I hope an independent Scotland rises to the challenge.

  13. Agree with everything you’re saying but years of neglect means that at present I don’t think we have the expertise to implement an integrated Public Transport Sytem in Scotland. We would have to hand the whole thing over to the Germans or preferably the Swiss for a few years to establish the system and train up a Cadre of Public Transport Professionals.
    As somebody who works in the Scottish Bus Industry (reluctantly) I can tell you that the only consideration in the two large Scottish based (to our shame!) privatised groups is how to maximise the money they can grub from the taxpayer via the concessionary fares scheme. They have absolutely no interest in coordinating different modes even where bus and rail are controlled by the same group!
    Also just throwing money at the same incompetents that brought you the Edinburgh Tram Disaster (which indeed means there will be no other Tram schemes in Scotland for at least a generation) will just bring you more Edinburgh Tram Disasters. As a life long nationalist it is ironic to me that the Borders Rail line was shaping up to be another home grown disaster until UK wide body Network Rail took over (for a price).
    Therefore after independence it is imperative we have a “clear out” of our public sector incompetents (which is most of them) and a reversal of Privatisation (with as little compensation to the likes of Souter as possible) in the Bus and Rail sectors. Whether this would be compatible with EU directives is another question..

  14. What a brilliant map of the old rail network.
    BTW the old Aberdeen to Ballater line was never developed further (to Braemar and hence to Perth) because Victoria didn’t want it to pass Balmoral. In the 60s Beeching added the whole cost of a new engine on to the annual running costs to demonstrate that the line was uneconomic and so it was closed. Imagine what a popular route that would be now! The private bus operator at the time ensured that the bus to Braemar left Ballater 5 minutes before the train arrived. Thus passengers were obliged to take the bus the whole way. Always up to little entrepreneurial tricks these private monopolies!

  15. Excellent article, Paul, and many very useful comment from others with which I thoroughly agree.

    Living in the the SW of Scotland I am especially aware of the many problems associated with the A75 which carries traffic from Ireland as far as Turkey. Attempts have been made to ease some problems with the use of by-passes but this has only been piecemeal and slow and has left two villages on the A75 as the only villages sitting without a by-pass, on what is laughingly called a Euro-route, between Ireland and southern Europe.

    These two small villages have international traffic consisting of convoys of huge articulated lorries bound for other parts of Europe and Ireland roaring through and mixing with ordinary traffic such as farm tractors. There have been unsuccessful attempts by inhabitants of these villages to be considered for a by-pass over many years, the most recent occurring at the time of the Lab-Lib administration at Holyrood.

    The then Jim Wallace came to the area to be shown the problems in person and met with a delegation leading the appeal, at a village hall. He went away to consider and back came the usual verdict that lack of money precluded the building of a by-pass. Shortly afterwards, that same administration handed money from the block grant back to London claiming that they couldn’t think of a use for it. ( And still this area is largely unionist! )

    The sad thing is – apart from the strong unionist tendency – you can still see in the lanscape where the old railway line went pre-Beeching, if you look hard enough and it did mainly run close to the so-called Euro-route. It would have made a tremendous difference to the whole Mull of Galloway in terms of its economy and transport efficiency if the railway existed now. Like many other parts of rural Scotland it’s the usual story of cynical expediency and short-sighted conservatism having triumphed over ambition and enlightened pragmatism. Even in an independent Scotland it will take a long time to put right all that has been done wrongly in the past.

  16. Another possibility for an iScotland to consider would be

    to remake the 7 cities interconnecting lines (G,S,P,I,A,D,E) to 250kph standards (157mph) and

    to upgrade the gauge to GC (Scandinavian interpretation) so we no longer have to accept E+W castoffs
    GC would allow 5 across seating increasing capacity by a quarter
    GC would allow all freight containers on standard wagons

    Cost about £4bn for that infrastructure

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  18. {cough} Here in Newcastle (Tyne and Wear) you can buy an integrated transport ticket that allows you on the metro (light transit railway), buses, the railway to the Metrocentre, and the ferries. Mind a bus journey of about 15 minutes in Newcastle cost the same as the bus journey from the Ingleston park and ride to Princes Street, as I found out when I went on the march last year.

    The A1 has two small stretches of dual carriageway north of Morpeth. I have driven the A1 as part of a journey to Fife over the last 15 years and the only improvements to that road have been north of the border. I would add the only improvements to that route have been north of the border.

    HS2 will never be extended to Leeds, never mind anywhere else, it will suffer the same fate as the Edinburgh trams – become so overblown that no one will want to repeat it.

    There was an attempt to integrate transport in Glasgow, about the same time as Elspeth King was in charge of the People’s Palace, it was the last gasp of socialism in Glasgow.

    However, I agree, Scotland needs more dual carriageway and more railway. It needs continental ferry routes, and more continental air routes. I can’t get those if it’s a ‘region’. It gets those by being a country.

    • Integrated transport is nothing to do with socialism. If it was then Germany, Switzerland and Austria would be socialist, which they manifestly are not unless you count the former GDR’s happy years of soviet socialism..

      • Some of the best integrated transport systems I’ve seen have been in the USA. The Bay Area around San Francisco has a great public transport system integrating streetcars, the BART metro system, buses and cable cars.

    • The Metro is a good system, the first of the modern LRT systems in the UK outside of London and arguably still the best. It should have been the model for Edinburgh with it’s extensive disused Railway lines in the North and the “Subbie” in the South. With a cut and cover tunnel under Princes St that would have been a system worth paying 800M quid for!

      • I believe the Southside suburban line was offered private funding to reopen for passengers by developers if the public sector would match it. The cost seemed pretty small compared to the colossal sum spent on the tram. It was turned down on the basis that there was already a very high volume of non-passenger traffic with little room for more trains unless they introduced expensive resignalling. A pity with hindsight.

  19. Have a wee look at this from today’s Prague paper Aktualne. A city with a marvellous integrated transport system is going to make it even better.
    To see more and also article on 10 Moravian transport and train companies working together. in Aktuelne.


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