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Fears it could be decades before upgrade of Highland Main Line as no improvements to take place despite recommendations in Scotland’s 20-year transport masterplan – Scottish Business News



FEARS have been raised it could be decades before the Highland Main Line is upgraded after the Scottish government revealed no improvements are planned despite recommendations in Scotland’s 20-year transport masterplan.

Highlands and Islands MSP Tim Eagle described the decision to not allocate any money for further enhancements to the line from Inverness to Perth as a “betrayal to Highland passengers”.

The revelation comes despite the SNP’s national transport strategy (STPR2) recommending new and longer passing loops with more flexibility and permissible speed increases.

The public were told a business case would be developed and that the improvements, as part of the 20-year strategy, would increase “capacity and reliability” for passengers and freight services.

But in a response to a written question by Mr Eagle, transport secretary Fiona Hyslop revealed there were “no active enhancement projects” in place for the route.

Scottish Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands, Tim Eagle, said: “This revelation is a betrayal to Highland passengers who just want services comparable to what is available in the central belt.

“It shows the STPR2 is sadly meaningless to the SNP who seem to have no interest in adhering to its recommendations.

“Fiona Hyslop’s response will be met with despair by Highland communities who potentially now face decades before a spade hits the ground on any improvements.

“At a time when the A9 has been delayed, the A96 is on hold and ferries are years late and over budget, it’s clear this SNP government has no intention on reducing rail times in the Highlands.”

The last set of improvements on the line were delivered in 2019, which included signalling upgrades at Aviemore and Pitlochry stations, along with an extension of the passing loop at Aviemore and the reconfiguration and extension of the platforms at Pitlochry.

In her response to Mr Eagle, Ms Hyslop said: “There are no active enhancement projects on the Highland Main Line.

“However, Transport Scotland continues to revise its programme of works against priorities in the context of available funding.

“This ensures Transport Scotland can deliver the right projects at the right time as it seeks to progress its rolling programme of decarbonisation, whilst also delivering rail passenger and freight services that meet user expectations.”

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