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Railwatch 071 - April 1997

Scotland

By David Hansen

Good news EWS is now transporting timber from the Highlands to Wales. An interesting feature is the loading of some trains on running lines, preventing lorry journeys on narrow roads to railheads. This only works because of the sparse passenger service on these remote lines.

Bad news The cost of upgrading the West Coast main line for piggyback services has gone up by £70 million. This time it's not Railtrack! The WCML passenger franchise does not include for disruption caused by upgrading for piggyback. As a result the piggyback operator will have to pay for this, even though much work will be common with other upgrades. The real culprits are the Government, their rushing through of the franchise before a general election meant piggyback had to be left out of the tender. What a way to run a railway.

ScotRail RDS Scotland lobbied the Franchise Director on the draft passenger service requirement. The final PSR was somewhat better, but still left out a number of services. So much for the promises of politicians that services would be better than in the 1994 timetable. We have laid plans for lobbying the political parties at the election.

Possible investment GNER is talking of providing a new station on the east of Edinburgh. In days of old it would have been called a Parkway station. Railtrack is looking at developing sites at or near Glasgow Queen Street or Edinburgh Waverley. Virgin Cross Country is talking of investing in new trains. Aberdeen to Plymouth in a souped-up 158. Let's hope they are a lot better than the current 158s.

Airport problem The heavy rail link to Glasgow Airport now seems to be firmly off. There is talk of light rail vehicles running on the railway line, with a light rail link to the airport. Interestingly BAA which runs the airport is not that interested in light rail vehicles running to Glasgow. It wants trains running to places like Dundee, via a Glasgow Crossrail line, to bring customers from afar. RDS Scotland welcomes light rail vehicles in Glasgow, provided the link to the airport is heavy rail so that full-size trains can use it.

Cycling ScotRail has been trying to come up with better ways of dealing with cycles on trains. Progress is slow, but we are keen to help them if we can.

Annual meeting The RDS Scotland AGM will take place at 14.00 on 22 March at the Grosvenor Hotel, Edinburgh (near Haymarket station). The speaker cannot be revealed at the time of writing, but we hope for a positive look forward from a privatised railway company.

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