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Scotland prioritises light rail growth

The Scottish Government is to give precedence to expansion of Edinburgh’s tramway and the creation of a ‘metro’ for Glasgow in its 20-year vision for sustainable transport.

The Scottish Government is to give precedence to expansion of Edinburgh’s tramway and the creation of a ‘metro’ for Glasgow in its 20-year vision for sustainable transport.

While work continues on the 4.7km (2.9-mile) extension of Edinburgh’s tramway from its current St Andrew Square terminus to Newhaven (due to open in 2023), further expansion plans are being taken forward by the city council.

However, national authority Transport Scotland (TS) is now investigating further routes from the north of Edinburgh, through the city centre to the south/east boundary and onto East or
Mid-Lothian.

In Glasgow, proposals include connecting the city with “immediate surrounding areas in East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire” via “bus rapid transit, tram, light rail and/or metro rail”, integrated with the existing bus and rail networks. The proposals also reconfirm the need for a light rail or metro link from the city’s Central Station to Glasgow Airport.

Other priorities set out in the Scottish Government’s plans include the expansion of 20mph (32km/h) traffic zones, further reallocation of road space for public transport, investment in alternative fuels, and a greater shift of freight transport from road to rail. In its 2021-22 Budget, GBP3.2bn (EUR3.65bn) has been allocated to transport investment, including GBP1.6bn (EUR1.82bn)  for rail and bus services.

Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “As we continue to navigate our way through an unprecedented global health emergency, the investment decisions we make have never been so important. We want to lock in the changes to the healthy, green travel options we’ve seen during the pandemic, while supporting interventions that will aid and help accelerate economic recovery.”