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Railwatch 080 - July 1999


By David Hansen

Future planning The Scottish version of the Network Management Statement was published at the same time as the England and Wales version. We welcome the NMS wholeheartedly. It is a marked improvement over the previous one and contains a wealth of information, plans and a vision of enhancements in speed, gauge, capacity and axle loadings. The plans and vision do not go as far as we would like, but that does not mean that they are unwelcome and the NMS is much better than anything BR produced.

New stations One of the more interesting schemes is the reopening of Beauly station. This is highly innovative as the platform will be shorter than the trains, with selective door opening to prevent people breaking their ankles. This sort of innovation is essential on the more remote lines and it deserves to succeed. Beauly is at the planning permission stage at the time of writing.

A larger scheme is the complete rebuilding of Edinburgh Waverley. There are concerns that this could destroy the visual environment of the area, but if the scheme provides a real transport improvement, rather than just a retail improvement and fits in with the area most objections should be overcome. Closed circuit TV is being extended to stations in the East, with a control room in Dunfermline, following its installation in the West. Home Office studies of CCTV have shown that it makes little difference to crime against the person, although it makes a fair difference to property crimes. However, if it encourages more people to use the train as they are less fearful of assault then it has some value. Most of the spending in the NMS is on maintenance rather than investment, but the enhanced level of maintenance has helped ScotRail to the top of the OPRAF league table. Although these league tables are largely meaningless, as they don't compare apples with apples, congratulations are still due to ScotRail and Railtrack for this performance.

Freight clearance The most disappointing decision is that a piggyback route to Scotland is not to be created. Instead the money is to be spent on clearing more routes for deep sea containers. This decision does not help the campaign against the M74 extension in Glasgow and is very regrettable. We are not convinced that this is a decision that should be made by Railtrack. Rapid Government action is necessary to sort out this ludicrous state of affairs.

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