Sun 31 Jan, 2021

Our rail network has suffered from decades of under investment, but it must be a vital part of the recovery John Finnie

Rail experts have welcomed a £22bn Scottish Greens vision to upgrade Scotland’s railways, declaring it “bold and technically literate” and “genuinely aspirational”.

The Rail for All report, which was launched this month by the Scottish Greens, includes proposals for a new tunnel under the Forth between Leith and Fife which would free up the network for electrification. It would see new rural stations open up across the country and faster links between cities.

An editorial in industry magazine Rail by deputy editor Stefanie Foster welcomed Rail For All. She said: “We thought this measured, objective and genuinely aspirational report was shot through with the vision we need to achieve net zero emissions in 2050.  Scotland’s Greens show just how important the railway will be in delivering our 2050 aims.” 

Railway engineer Gareth Dennis of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education said it was: “a bold and technically literate document that I am fully behind.”

He continued: “#RailForAll is what every other UK party should have already created.”

On the Forth tunnel, Martin Knights, chair of tunnelling experts London Bridge Associates, said: “Recent subaqueous tunnelling projects in the UK and Nordic countries have demonstrated that tunnelling of this nature is entirely feasible.”

Rail union TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes also welcomed the plans, adding: “There is no doubt Scotland’s railways must not only be in public hands but green, clean and accessible to all.”

Commenting, Scottish Greens transport spokesperson John Finnie, who commissioned the report, said: “This report contains the kind of ambition and bold long-term thinking we need to tackle inequality and the climate crisis, so it is particularly satisfying to see recognition from experts in the railways that it is realistic and affordable.

“Our rail network has suffered from decades of under investment, but it must be a vital part of the recovery. Our plans would create new jobs, reconnect remote communities, bring our railways into public ownership and  drive down Scotland’s dangerously high transport emissions to tackle the climate emergency.”

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