|Why can't our transport system be better?
Our transport network has been neglected. The current powers
of the Scottish Parliament are too limited to allow us to consider
all elements of transport policy. For example, the Scottish
Parliament has responsibility for passenger trains, but not
the rails on which they run. We need Independence to take responsibility
for all aspects of transport policy; road, maritime, rail, and
air, to come up with a comprehensive and integrated policy which
will address Scotland’s needs.
We will take a strategic overview of all forms of transport
to develop a National Transport Plan to determine short, medium,
and long term priorities to ensure that investment in our
transport network will both meet Scotland’s social and
economic needs and respect our environment.
Our proposals for Strategic Transport Authorities, acting
as joint boards on behalf of groups of Local Authorities,
will enable the needs and challenges of individual localities,
travel to work areas, and wider regions to be efficiently
addressed. It will be a key objective of the Strategic Transport
Authorities to improve public transport and reduce car dependence,
thus addressing traffic congestion and the social, economic
and environmental damage caused. We will continue the road-building
programme we inherit and will remain attentive to concerns
over road safety and strategic demands on the network throughout
our term in office.
The Westminster—driven fragmentation and privatisation
of our railways has been damaging for our economy and difficult
for commuters. It’s time for Scotland to take back control
of the railways. There are three elements to this strategy.
First is tackling our rail infrastructure. The privatisation
of railway lines and signalling has been acknowledged as a
failure even by the UK government. We believe that control
and funding of the rail infrastructure in Scotland should
be through a publicly accountable Not for Profit Trust.
Second is our railway services. The Scotrail franchise, which
provides passenger train services across most of Scotland,
is due for renewal, and we believe that it too should be taken
under public control through a Not for Profit Trust. Third
is integration. When we have regained public accountability
and control of our rail network, we will re-integrate Network
Rail, the Strategic Rail Authority, and the Scotrail Franchise
within a Scottish National Railway Authority. This new body
will be able to provide the holistic approach necessary for
the successful running of our railways.
The SNP will bring forward legislation to allow the regulation
of buses and ensure that service provision matches need and
is of high quality to make public transport an attractive,
reliable, and affordable option.
As an island nation with a rich maritime history and numerous
island and archipelago communities, sea links are vital. The
opening of the Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry link has been a major
boon for the Scottish economy. We will seek to ensure the
success of that service. We will seek to enhance it and to
create new links where a market exists. Moreover, we will
look to maximise our geographic location by encouraging and
promoting maritime initiatives, such as the structures into
Connecting Scotland with the world
In order to compete in the global economy, Scotland must become
more accessible. At the moment most of our important international
destinations are accessible only through London.
More direct flights to a greater diversity of strategic world
and European destinations are vital for all sectors of the
economy. Identifying the market for and supporting the development
of new routes is a vital strategic step to attracting carriers
to operate more flights from Scottish airports. We will work
in partnership with industry using a Route Development Fund
to establish and develop routes to our key markets.
Our rural areas
The state of rural roads is a key concern in our rural areas
and the SNP’s commitment to Not for Profit Trust alternatives
to the private financing of road building projects will mean
cheaper finance and greater opportunities to renew our rural
roads network. The SNP will not use PFI-privatisation so will
therefore put more money into rural roads and less into the
pockets of private contractors.
The maintenance of direct and affordable air, sea, and rail
links is a crucial element in developing Scotland’s
rural economy. The SNP will continue to work to promote the
development of Highlands & Islands airports and maintain
key connections. Our proposal for Strategic Transport Authorities
will allow a holistic approach to be taken to improving transport
links across rural Scotland, including our long-standing commitment
to the abolition of Skye Bridge tolls.