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Scottish Strategic Rail Study - Final Report




9.1 The final element of our analysis has been to look at the links between the geographical 'regions' of the study area and beyond.

SWOT Analysis

9.2 Inter-regional movements are characterised in the main by journey times that are not competitive with the car or coach (with the exception of the Glasgow to Edinburgh service). This is a particular concern in the North East of the country. For external movements that are not on the East Coast Mainline (e.g. Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol) current journey times are considered to be uncompetitive. There is a lack of north-south journey integration through Glasgow, which can be a deterrent. Service reliability and frequency are also issues within the west of Scotland on cross-border routes.

9.3 Accessibility to the long distance rail network by car or bus can be an issue in the congested urban areas. Additionally, increased competition from low cost airlines (cross border) and the coach and car (within Scotland) are eroding rail's market share of the long distance market.

9.4 A SWOT analysis for the Inter-Regional and External Movements is contained in WP3 Appendix A.

Planning Objective & Aspirational Targets

9.5 The planning objectives for Inter -Regional services are shown in Table 9.1. The priorities lie largely with improving the service for existing markets; to reduce journey times where rail is not competitive with car and coach (principally to/from the North East), to reduce the relative generalised cost of rail with respect to its competitors, to improve north-south journey integration and to improve inter-modal access.

Projects Considered

9.6 Table 9.2 lists the various schemes that have been considered to address these objectives and also shows under which scenario they have been tested. By definition there is a very high degree of inter-relationship between the Inter Regional projects and those under consideration in the regions, particularly those in the Central Belt.

9.7 The facilitating projects for the various Inter Regional projects have already been described in the individual area chapters.

Table 9.1 Inter-Regional stag Planning Objectives & Aspirational Targets


Note: 1 - The study will inform the achievability of the targets under different resource scenarios as well as the point in time that they can be achieved
(*) - Broad pragmatic target .

High Resource Scenario

9.8 The theme for the Inter-Regional High Resource package is to provide a far more attractive service than at present, with higher frequencies throughout, more routes and connections, higher service quality and journey times that are competitive with other modes. These characteristics are aimed at enabling the express railway system to attract many more customers, meet a higher proportion of the longer distance travel demand, and reflect the needs for cohesive development of Scotland's major regional centres based around more effective use of public transport.

9.9 The components of this scenario are described in the following paragraphs.


9.10 A new Inter Regional express network has been devised and tested and includes the following:

  • Glasgow and Edinburgh: Four express trains an hour between Glasgow and Edinburgh forming a quarter hourly service via Falkirk, serving Edinburgh Airport en route (with journey time improvements compared to the existing express service). Two will continue on to / from the Ayr Coast from Glasgow via Paisley whilst the other two would continue to /from Glasgow Airport;
  • An hourly semi fast service between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Shotts;
  • A local quarterly hourly service between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Airdrie -Bathgate with 2 continuing on to /from Helensburgh and two continuing on to / from Paisley Gilmour Street (see SESTRAN and SPT projects);
  • A half hourly service from Glasgow and from Edinburgh to Dundee, with two trains per hour continuing on to / from Aberdeen. From both Edinburgh and Glasgow one of the two trains per hour will be fast and the other will be semi-fast;
  • A half hourly semi fast service from Glasgow via Cumbernauld, Falkirk and Edinburgh Airport to Kirkcaldy;
  • An hourly service from Edinburgh to Perth via Kirkcaldy, continuing to / from Inverness.

9.11 To achieve these increased service frequencies the following facilitating infrastructure projects will be required:

  • Edinburgh Waverley rebuilding ( Chapter 5);
  • Edinburgh Airport link ( Chapter 5);
  • Glasgow Cross City links ( Chapter 6);
  • Ladybank - Perth capacity enhancement ( Chapter 7);
  • Lenzie - Falkirk capacity upgrading;
  • Aberdeen and Dundee Crossrail ( Chapters 7 & 8).

9.12 The construction of these facilitating projects allows the implementation of a package of measures that include improved journey speeds on the Edinburgh - Dundee - Aberdeen line, and the re-opening of the Bathgate to Airdrie line.

9.13 The infrastructure projects defined would be complemented by an increase in the number of trains in the express fleet, and greater quality for the whole fleet. These investments would also increase seating capacity over all routes.

9.14 The improved level of provision would be supported by integral packages of better customer care, ticketing, information, and marketing, designed to maximize the opportunities for the express network. The express network would be integrated with stopping and suburban rail services and with bus services and access to express service stations by car will form a key element.

Performance of the HRS

9.15 The indicative capital cost of implementing all of the Inter Regional HRS schemes outlined in Table 9.2 is 129m. It should be noted that all of the facilitating projects, and most of the other projects within the HRS, with the exception of Airdrie -Bathgate and the Lenzie Falkirk upgrading, have been costed in the regional strategies, hence the relatively low cost for the Inter Regional HRS. However, the operating costs of the new and enhanced express services are substantial and are estimated at an additional 46m pa (WP6).

9.16 The high resource scenario improves direct inter-regional journey times through the reduction in the number of stops that such services make. This was achieved by the introduction of local services in the Tay and NESTRANS areas. The generalised cost of travel was reduced through the introduction of increased frequency between Edinburgh and Glasgow and Stirling, Perth and Dundee. Additionally, a new service between Glasgow Queen St and Markinch was introduced. The Glasgow City Tunnel provided a direct link between the Ayrshire and Inverclyde local authorities and the SESTRAN local authorities. As might be expected given the extent of these service enhancements, the HRS results in a large increase in the use of Inter Regional rail services, an extra 72% more passengers and 60% more passenger miles (Table 9.3).

Table 9.3 Inter Regional journeys and passenger miles for HRS vs (Capacity constrained) Do Minimum 2010 (000s)

Passenger Miles pa

Journeys pa

Do Minimum



High Resource






% Uplift



Medium Resource Scenario

9.17 The improvement in services between the SPT and Tay/NESTRANS and between SESTRAN and Tay/NESTRANS suggests that whilst some of the services produce a positive contribution to overall benefits in the HRS, not all the services do. However, the synergies between all the different services and the major facilitating projects in the high resource scenario (particularly the City Tunnel) make it difficult to disaggregate the benefits of the individual long distance services from those of other projects. All the long distance services between the Central Belt and Tay and NESTRANS were therefore considered as "contenders" for the medium resource scenario and demand forecasts have been prepared.

9.18 Elsewhere, the choice of facilitating projects in the Central Belt in the MRS has implications for the Inter Regional services that can be operated. The Glasgow City Tunnel and the Edinburgh Airport sub-surface station projects are not in the MRS. The choice of a smaller scale Edinburgh Airport rail link option and capacity problems at Glasgow Queen St (because there is no Glasgow City Tunnel) means that the Glasgow to Markinch service, that had been included in the high resource scenario, cannot be included in the medium resource scenario.

9.19 The high resource scenario also included two new inter-regional services that perform a local function. These services are Airdrie/Bathgate and the Caledonian Express (Shotts semi-fast). Both the Airdrie/Bathgate and the Caledonian Express service have been considered in the MRS to ensure that the interactions between them and the major facilitating projects in the SPT and SESTRAN areas are fully explored.

9.20 In summary, the following services were included for testing in the medium resource scenario:

  • Hourly services between Glasgow/Edinburgh and Dundee;
  • Hourly services between Glasgow/Edinburgh and Aberdeen (with fewer stops than existing services);
  • Hourly service between Edinburgh and Perth (extension of existing Edinburgh to Markinch service);
  • Two hourly service from Edinburgh to Inverness (serving Perth within the SSRS study area), and;
  • Between SESTRAN & SPT; the Shotts Semi-Fast service and the Airdrie-Bathgate route.

9.21 As discussed in the SESTRAN and SPT chapters previously, capacity limitations at Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central High Level mean that not all of these services can in practice be accommodated and hence the MRS testing was used to establish which of the services contribute most to the performance of the strategy.

Performance of the MRS

9.22 The capital cost for the MRS is unchanged from the HRS at 143m (the savings in cost between the two scenarios are accounted for elsewhere in the SPT & SESTRAN areas). The operating costs are lower, at 21m pa compared to 43m. The increase in demand is smaller, but is still highly significant at the equivalent of 56% higher than in the do-minimum (Table 9.4).

Table 9.4 Inter Regional journeys and passenger miles for MRS vs (Capacity constrained) Do Minimum 2010 (000s)

Passenger Miles pa

Journeys pa

Do Minimum



Medium resource






% Uplift



9.23 When we look at the performance of the individual components of the MRS, it is very clear that the Inter Regional services are affected by the interactions between the regional projects and vice versa.

9.24 Between the Central Belt and the Tay and NESTRANS areas, hourly services to Dundee and fast services to Aberdeen were considered. The fast services to Aberdeen could occur as result of the Dundee and Aberdeen Crossrail services. The Edinburgh to Aberdeen service had also been strengthened. There are therefore synergies (shared benefits and costs) between all these enhanced services/schemes, as well as between these schemes and the hourly Inverness to Aberdeen service - which shares costs with the Aberdeen Crossrail proposal. An analysis was undertaken (WP7) of the new Edinburgh to Dundee service and the enhanced (12 to 16 trains per day) and faster Edinburgh to Aberdeen service to unpick these synergies and it appears that it is the fast and enhanced Edinburgh to Aberdeen service that accrues the majority of the benefit on this route.

9.25 A similar conclusion was reached when the services to/from the SPT area were analysed. The two services under consideration here are the new Glasgow to Dundee service and the faster Glasgow to Aberdeen service. The results of the analysis are presented in WP7 and while the Dundee service meets a number of planning objectives it is the fast and enhanced Glasgow to Aberdeen service that accrues the majority of the benefit on this route.

9.26 The results of the analysis of the relative benefits of the local and express services from Edinburgh to Perth were discussed in Chapter 7 on the Tay Area. To recap, the best NPV, albeit negative, is achieved through the frequency enhancement of express services between (Inverness) -Perth-Edinburgh. However, the BCRs between the two service options are indistinguishable and it was considered that the local service to Perth would contribute more to the planning objectives of the Tay area than the express service to Perth & Inverness does for the planning objectives of the Inter-Regional grouping.

9.27 Between SPT & SESTRAN the performance of the Shotts semi-fast service and the Airdrie-Bathgate service were reviewed as part of the Waverley upgrade and Glasgow Central capacity debate. In summary, capacity constraints at Glasgow Central HL and Edinburgh Waverley (even with Edinburgh Waverley Option 4) combined with the fact that strong schemes exist that compete for the same train paths as the Shotts semi-fast service, suggest that a Shotts semi-fast service would not be a priority and that a new service between Edinburgh and Glasgow via the Airdrie to Bathgate link would perform better.

Low Resource Scenario

9.28 The LRS only contains one Inter Regional service enhancements - the increase from 12 to 16 trains per day between Aberdeen to Inverness which supports NESTRANS -Aberdeen Crossrail scheme. All the other Inter Regional projects rely on a major facilitating project. The capital costs of implementing the Inverness service are estimated at 10m and the service (and the additional Inter Regional trips generated by some of the other LRS schemes) would increase Inter Regional journeys in total by 220,000 in 2010, or 3%. Passenger miles would increase by 12.2m, also 3%.

9.29 When the LRS Inter Regional services are packaged with the Tay and NESTRANS services (WP8) the benefits under the LRS are less than those achieved under the MRS for NESTRANS but similar for the Tay Area. With respect to the NESTRANS results, the lack of integration (through new stations) with development areas, particularly the airport area, has significantly reduced the potential market for the Crossrail service, whilst capital and operating costs have not been reduced by a proportionate amount. The proposals in the Tay area are similar under both the MRS and the LRS and there is no significant change in performance.