Radical Scottish rail proposals receive chilly reception

Scottish rail passengers could see cross border trains cut back to Edinburgh and sleeper services operated as a standalone franchise if Transport Scotland chooses to implement some of the options it is considering.

A public consultation, with a closing date of 20th February, is currently underway to consider what changes need to be made to Scottish train services from 2014, the year when the next five year control period begins and when the new Scottish rail franchise commences.

The priorities for investment, as outlined in the consultation document, are improvements to the Edinburgh to Glasgow, Perth to Inverness and Aberdeen to Inverness routes.

It also proposes that through services from England should terminate at Edinburgh, with passengers catching local services to travel north, to avoid abstracting revenue from ScotRail and that the Caledonian Sleeper could operate as a separate franchise.

The paper also examines 37 little-used stations, some of which see less than 20 passengers a week, and asks if maintaining such lightly used stations can be justified and whether multiple stations are needed in areas where they are less than 1500m apart.

The drive behind the proposals is an ambition to reduce the amount of subsidy provided by taxpayers and to increase the amount of support, currently 26%, that comes from the fare box.

A backlash against the proposals has already started with critics such as Labour transport spokesman Lewis Macdonlad calling it ‘Alice in Wonderland stuff ‘ and a ‘consultation full of crackpot ideas’.

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