Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 13:46 UK

Rail trip to be cut by 35 minutes

A train at Aviemore
Mr Salmond said faster train journeys would boost business

Improvements to cut rail journeys from Inverness to Edinburgh by 35 minutes and to make the A9 road safer will be made, the first minister has pledged.

Alex Salmond, who is heading a cabinet meeting in Inverness, said the Scottish Government was committed to having the work done.

The government's aim was to make train journeys faster and move more freight on railways.

Mr Salmond said investment on the A9 would be made on a "continuing basis".

Options for the road will be given consideration in the government's Strategic Transport Projects Review.

Improvements planned for the railway between Edinburgh and Inverness include building additional loops, along with other line and signalling improvements.

The work is expected to cost more than 54m.

Mr Salmond said: "The faster train journey between the capital city and the capital of the Highlands will undoubtedly attract even more visitors and businesses to the area.

"Equally, we have been clear in our commitment to invest in the A9 on a continuing basis.

"Key sections of the A9 have already seen improvements, with a programme of further works currently being taken forward."

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