29 January 2009

S3M-3322 Transport [Closing Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 29 January 2009

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]

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The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-3322, in the name of Des McNulty, on transport priorities.


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Stewart Stevenson:

In the limited time that I have, I will try to deal with as many of the points that members have raised as possible.

The STPR deals with surface transport and not merely roads. However, Alison McInnes clearly believes that all interventions on roads should be in the STPR. That is not true—unless she is advocating, as she now appears to be, the abolition of the regional transport partnerships.

Let me draw Peter Peacock's attention to some of the numbers relating to traffic at Elgin. If we consider an extreme situation, as few as 3,000 of the 20,227 vehicles that go through Elgin every day could divert to the bypass. That should make us focus on the fact that we are not merely talking about a trunk road intervention. It is precisely because different views exist that we are now engaging with HITRANS and the local council to work out the right interventions for Elgin. However, we acknowledge that interventions are needed.

Peter Peacock appeared to suggest that the TLR might resolve issues at the roundabout adjacent to the ground of Caley Jags. I am really not clear why that should be.

Mary Scanlon said that she was holding the Government to account. Quite properly, she said that that was the job of the Opposition, and I have no problem of any kind with that assertion. However, the mature way of making progress is to engage on the issues—such as those affecting Elgin—in order to work out the right solution.

Charlie Gordon asked what would be happening in the next five or six years, and then talked about "son of crossrail". This is another situation in which various numbers arise. We have commissioned research work from Jacobs to consider the capacity of the Glasgow stations and the rail network in the approaches to Glasgow. The research will inform a meeting that will take place in the next few weeks. Useful work will enable Strathclyde partnership for transport and the Government to determine the long-term strategy for developing son of crossrail or crossrail-plus, or whatever we choose to call it.

On the question of the rolling stock being too long, if I was misleading in the meeting of the cross-party group on Glasgow crossrail I should now be clear and say that the new rolling stock is 23m long as opposed to 20m, and in future trains will comprise eight carriages of 23m. Under those circumstances, the present ability at Glasgow Central sometimes to put three trains at one platform will be diminished—platforms will be able to accommodate only one train. It is not that we will be unable to get the trains in, but there will be an effect on the overall capacity—the overall number of trains. I know that the people who are considering the issue will acknowledge that that effect will have to be dealt with.

I will answer Lewis Macdonald's points very briefly. He brought forward a miasma of obfuscation, distortion, misrepresentation, pusillanimous persiflage, and economy of memory, facts and explanation. It will be done. We will pay for it. The people of Aberdeen will be duly grateful.

Lewis Macdonald: Will the minister take an intervention?

Stewart Stevenson: No, he will not. He has got only five minutes, so he does not have enough time.

Jim Tolson described the STPR as a "thin" document. It has 3,800 pages, for heaven's sake! He has given the game away: he has not actually read the thing.

Jim Tolson went on to say that there is a 60mph limit north of the Forth bridge. The first 60mph limit on the A90 north of the bridge, or on any of the roads connecting to it, is at the delimit sign at Dyce airport north of Aberdeen. If he thinks that that will affect—

Alison McInnes: That is wrong.

Stewart Stevenson: Alison McInnes is quite right: I am wrong. The first 60mph limit is north of Inverurie. However, it certainly is not immediately north of the bridge. Let us deal in facts, not hypotheses.

This Government is committed to bringing forward the projects in the strategic transport projects review, and I look forward with optimism to support for our approach at 5 o'clock. We will support the Tory amendment because it makes sense, but no one else should look forward to our support.


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