Emma Roddick, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, expressed frustration at ScotRail’s proposals for inter-city rail travel to the north of Scotland. The proposals – announced this week as part of ScotRail’s ‘Fit for the Future’ plan – propose to continue to use class 170 instead of High Speed Trains between Inverness, Aberdeen and the central belt, despite assurances that inter-city travel would be provided entirely by the latter. Class 170 trains have fewer amenities such as charging ports, less comfortable seating and restricted catering. They were described as ‘inappropriate’ for inter-city travel in the past when the most recent ScotRail franchise was specified.
A total of £57 million is being invested in improvements to the Highland Mainline, including a considerable sum in acquiring and refurbishing the High Speed Trains to enable their use on ScotRail’s inter-city routes. Roddick believes that in order to provide the travelling experience passengers deserve on these services, the more fit-for-purpose high-speed trains must be implemented on the route.
Speaking about the proposed changes, Roddick said:
“There is fantastic potential for a publicly-run Scotrail to meet Scotland’s travel aspirations – however I believe these changes fall short of what we can achieve.
“Inverness is a city and it is unfair to exclude it, and the other Highland communities served by ScotRail’s inter-city network, from improvements that would bring services in line with what passengers now expect.
“We must ensure any changes to the Highland Mainline result in a service which works for rail users in the Highlands and really is Fit for the Future.”