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Government has shunted reduced train journey time into the sidings

8th February 2019

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is warning train passengers not to expect a two hour and 45 minute journey time on the Highland Main Line anytime soon.

Scottish Government Transport Minister, Michael Matheson, has stated the quicker journey time is now ‘a long-term aspiration' despite a commitment made by Alex Salmond, the then First Minister, in August 2008, to reduce train journey times between Inverness and Edinburgh to at least two hours 45 minutes by 2012.

"That promise has disappeared down the track, like many given by this Government," explained Mrs Grant, who represents the Highlands and Islands.

"The fact that the Transport Secretary hasn't given a possible date to achieve that past commitment is very concerning. Yet again our region is being placed at the bottom of the pile when it comes to being top of the list of improvements to our rail service.

“"Last year campaigners stressed that there was just a paltry few minutes saved on journey time, which is just woeful. There is no doubt the rail system should be nationalised, but in the meantime the Scottish Government needs to live up to their previous promises."

In reply to a Parliamentary Question, Mr Matheson told Mrs Grant: “The long term aspiration remains to deliver a fastest journey time of 2 hours 45 minutes between Inverness and the Central Belt."

He said the Highland Main Line Rail Improvement project would be completed in phases between 2014 and 2025. In 2012 services increased from 9 to 11 trains per day in each direction, reducing journey times by an average of 6 minutes at a cost of £1.2 million.

He added phase two will see a £57 million investment providing an hourly service between Perth and Inverness, delivery of a reduction in average journey times by around 10 minutes and more efficient freight operations.

Mrs Grant added: “Until we get more investment in services and infrastructure people will still take to the roads instead of the train and adding to that decision are recent train cancellations. Increase in ticket prices and carriage over-crowding. We deserve better.”

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