Glasgow and Edinburgh could get new mass transit systems under the first part of the Scottish Government’s blueprint for strategic transport links.
The Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) sets out the investment priorities for transport for the next 20 years. Transport Scotland said it will help to deliver the vision, priorities and outcomes for transport set out in its National Transport Strategy.
A computer-generated image of the Glasgow Metro at Glasgow Airport
It has published Phase One, containing ‘recommendations for national investment priorities in the short-term’. Phase Two, due in the autumn, will focus on ‘the delivery of medium to longer-term schemes over the next two decades’.
The two-phased approach was confirmed in the Government’s Programme for Government in September. Transport Scotland said this was ‘a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’. However, it means that decisions on more contentious issues, such as a review of major road dualling schemes on the A9 and A96 – costed at £3bn each – have been delayed until after elections for the Scottish Parliament in May.
The Phase One review outlines interventions that can be ‘delivered or significantly progressed in the short term’, but its list of 20 recommended projects under eight themes includes potentially very large schemes.
These include the Glasgow Metro – ‘an umbrella term or brand to describe a new level of public transport provision to serve and improve connectivity within the Glasgow conurbation’ – and Edinburgh Mass Transit – ‘an enhanced level of public transport provision in the city region, including Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Tram’.
Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, said the Government was ‘conducting a thorough, evidence-based review of the performance of Scotland’s strategic transport network’.
He said: ‘As we continue to navigate our way through an unprecedented global health emergency, the investment decisions we make have never been so important. We want to lock in the changes to the healthy, green travel options we’ve seen during the pandemic, while supporting interventions that will aid and help accelerate economic recovery.
‘Phase One sets out some of our transport investment priorities for the next few years, which will support a fair and sustainable economic recovery from the pandemic, while working towards our longer-term goals of making Scotland more accessible for residents, visitors and businesses; improving connectivity and highlighting the vital contribution that transport investment can play in enabling and sustaining Scotland’s economic growth.’
Transport Scotland said the document pledges ‘improved resilience of the trunk road network at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful’, although it largely re-iterates announcements made last year.
‘Phase One recommendations for national investment priorities in the short-term’ include:
- ‘Supporting smart and sustainable travel across Scotland, with development of active freeways and expansion of 20mph zones
- Improving public transport, with reallocation of road space for buses and improved accessibility at train stations
- Supporting the transition to low carbon transport, with investment in alternative fuels and progression of decarbonisation of rail
- Enabling larger loads to be carried by our railway network, encouraging freight to shift from road to rail transport.’
Transport Scotland said these priorities ‘underpin the 2021-22 Draft Budget set out last week, which commits to deliver a clean, efficient, and connected transport network with investment of £3.2bn; including £1.6bn for rail and bus services and £100.5m for active travel’.