If time means money then we’re pay­ing far too much

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY GOR­DON CASELY Gor­don Casely is a free­lance jour­nal­ist who runs his own firm, Her­ald Strat­egy Ltd. He spe­cialises in rail and in­fra­struc­ture.

When a re­port in­volv­ing a rail in­vest­ment of £200 mil­lion runs to a thump­ing

75 pages, I’d ex­pect en­cour­ag­ing out­comes... point­ers to en­hanced travel, or a vi­sion of shap­ing our rail sys­tem for the bet­ter.

Or even – to quote the mantra end­lessly trot­ted out by Trans­port Scot­land – how we’re “go­ing to build the best rail­way Scot­land’s ever had”.

Yet the sole out­come I glean from this heavy­weight study by Trans­port Scot­land is that train times from Aberdeen to the cen­tral belt could have two min­utes shaved off.

The re­port opens so en­cour­ag­ingly, with the as­pi­ra­tion that for £200m we pas­sen­gers could have 20 min­utes slashed off our jour­neys.

The ac­tu­al­ity is the thud­dingly clunk­ing TWO MIN­UTES. That’s right: all that lies at the bot­tom of Santa’s sack is 120 sec­onds.

Some­thing’s very wrong some­where. If £200m can only save two min­utes, then our ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture can’t ac­com­mo­date speed-ups, so the in­fra­struc­ture is at fault.

Our Euro­pean cousins in­her­ited the same Vic­to­rian-era sys­tems as us.

Un­like us, they’ve mod­ernised, up­graded and in­vested. High-speed trains run­ning on the tight­est head­ways con­nect cities and towns ev­ery­where.

We’re stuck with ris­i­bly third-rate trains, the poor­est-qual­ity long-dis­tance rolling stock in Europe.

Our in­fra­struc­ture creaks. When one of these out­dated trains head­ing for the cen­tral belt ap­proaches Stone­haven, it passes through three man­u­ally-con­trolled sig­nals within 300 yards – the same kind of sys­tem Queen Vic­to­ria saw 120 years ago.

So for a £200m spend, we could save two min­utes? I spent al­most the same time di­gest­ing the clumsy ti­tle of the re­port – “Trans­port Scot­land: Aberdeen-Cen­tral Belt Jour­ney Time Improvements Op­por­tu­ni­ties Study”.

This is a tun­nel with no light at the end. Trans­port Scot­land re­ally has to do bet­ter. We pas­sen­gers de­serve it.

“So, for a £ 200m spend we’re sav­ing two min­utes?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.