MSP for the Highlands and Islands Emma Roddick has called for due attention to be paid to the Highlands in the process of improving rail services across Scotland.
Roddick hailed the Scottish Government’s plans to take ScotRail into public ownership, saying it “provides us with a massive opportunity to get things right” but expressed her disappointment at ongoing service reductions across the Highlands, and joined the call of The Friends of the Far North Line that the Highland Main Line needs to be dualled as it is a vital intercity link between Inverness and the Central Belt of Scotland.
Speaking at the Scottish Parliament, Roddick said:
“I find it bizarre that ScotRail is using current passenger numbers to justify service reductions. We cannot use passenger numbers as any kind of basis for decision making at a time when people have been actively told not to use the train. We should be looking to the future and using the opportunity of service changes to encourage more users.”
Roddick also called for Inverness to be serviced by high-speed trains, noting the current trains on the Highland Main Line have been described as “not suited for intercity travel” by ScotRail and the Scottish Government.
Commenting on the debate, Roddick said: “Taking ScotRail into public ownership next year is a vital first step in building a public transport system fit for the 21st century. It is crucial that Highland communities are not forgotten in building that system.
“The reality is that for many people across the Highlands and Islands going car free remains impossible, and that will continue until we can offer them reliable and accessible railway services.”
Watch the contribution below: