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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 16:35 GMT
Rail plans 'short-change' Scotland
East Coast Mainline
The East Coast Main Line upgrade plans may suffer
Opposition MSPs have attacked the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) over its plans for the rail network in Scotland.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) said the country was being short-changed by the SRA's revision of its original plans, which signal the scaling back of some major projects.

The planned upgrade to the London to Scotland East Coast Main Line will now be smaller in scope with train frequency improvement plans "subject to affordability".

The SRA said that an ongoing feasibility study into a major revamp of Edinburgh's Waverley station would continue but gave no date for work to begin.

If the SRA can't or won't deliver real change then it is time for Scotland to run our railways the way that we want

Kenny MacAskill MSP

The transport minister welcomed the plan but Nationalists said: "Scotland has received little and is getting less."

SNP transport spokesman Kenny MacAskill said: "There is no commitment from the SRA to deliver and fund a new Waverley station, new airport links or any other scheme."

"If the SRA can't or won't deliver real change then it is time for Scotland to run our railways the way that we want."

In the latest SRA plan, the funding package figure of 80m for Scotland, announced last year, remains the same.

The SRA said rising costs had led to the rail industry's operating deficit soaring from 200m in 1999-2000 to 1.5bn in 2002-03.

Unlikely target

It admitted that a government target to increase rail passenger numbers by 50% by the end of 2010 was unlikely to be met.

A spokesman said the intention to reach the target had not been abandoned but admitted it may not be reached until 2012.

Despite this, Transport Minister Iain Gray said: "The SRA is a valuable partner in the development of many of our projects.

"I am pleased to see their commitment reinforced and I look forward to the continuing development work being done to deliver some of our longer term projects."

See also:

16 Jan 03 | Scotland
08 Jan 03 | England
15 Oct 02 | Scotland
12 Oct 01 | Scotland
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