Kezia Dugdale: Modern trains must match speed of the Flying Scotsman

MY partner lives in Fife and I find myself spending a lot of time on trains from Edinburgh travelling to see her.

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, 7:00 am
The Flying Scotsman arrives into Edinburgh Waverley before it sets off around the Fife Circular.

Many of my fellow passengers are heading slightly further north to Perth, and it’s always puzzled me how that journey can take so long.

A new report from the organisation Transform Scotland has now exposed the ‘north-south divide’ when it comes to rail services from Edinburgh. How can it be right that journey times between Edinburgh and Carlisle are faster than between Edinburgh and Perth, despite Carlisle being around double the distance from Edinburgh?

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You can get to York in two-and-a-half hours, which is also how long it takes to get to Aberdeen. York is 205 miles to the south, but Aberdeen is just 130 miles north. To reduce congestion on our roads and help the environment we need more people to switch from car to train. But that will only happen if rail travel is quicker, and that’s why we need to see more improvement on the routes to the north with increased investment.

It is disappointing that the first of ScotRail’s refurbished InterCity trains on the Aberdeen-to-Edinburgh line will not enter service until at least July, rather than this month as originally promised.

And a planned journey time cut on the flagship Edinburgh-to-Glasgow line will not be fully introduced until next year either. This newspaper has previously revealed how train journeys between Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee are slower now than they were during the age of steam.

So perhaps it’s little wonder there was such high demand to travel on the world’s most famous steam locomotive, the Flying Scotsman, when it visited Edinburgh and Fife at the weekend.