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09/10/2014

Much-improved rail services promised

Words: Roger Milne

Transport minister Keith Brown has told the Scottish Parliament that new trains, revamped stations and a huge range of other benefits will result from the overhaul of the ScotRail franchise. He confirmed this week that Dutch train operator Abellio has successfully bid for the £6 billion franchise.

Brown said the company would invest millions to provide an improved service and superior facilities for passengers.

Among the promised measures are nearly a quarter more carriages across the network, free Wi-Fi on all trains, and a new approach to cycling with more than 3,500 parking spaces and bike-hire at a number of stations.

Also on the cards are high-speed intercity diesel trains, with over a third more seats and advance fares of £5 between any two Scottish cities.

Announcing the new contract, the minister said: “There will be benefits all over the country, with faster services between all our cities, new trains in the Central Belt, a Great Scenic Railway scheme bringing more tourists to the north, the south-west and the Borders and major shopping developments at the stations at Aberdeen and Inverness. 

“And for the wider community, unused station buildings will be transformed into premises for start-up businesses.”.

Meanwhile, in a related but separate development, track-laying is under way on the multi-million pound rail link between the Borders and Edinburgh. 

The line between Tweedbank and the capital is due to open to passenger trains on 6 September next year. Seven new stations are being built along the 30-mile stretch of railway.

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