27/06/2012 - HITRANS Summer 2012 Newsletter
Catch the news- our Summer 2012 update following the HITRANS Board meeting in Nairn on 15th June 2012
New Local Authority Board Members
We welcome a number of new faces to the Partnership. New Council representatives are John Semple (Argyll and Bute), Fiona Murdoch (Moray), John Mackay (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), Graham Phillips (Highland) and James Stockan (Orkney). The non Council Board Members remain unchanged- we welcome the continuing involvement of Wilson Metcalfe, David Gray and Okain MacLennan. Cllr Semple from Campbeltown has been appointed Chair of HITRANS and will be responsible for leading the Board in ensuring delivery of HITRANS’ Regional Transport Strategy and working with stakeholders to promote the case for key transport investment in the Highlands and Islands. Cllr Murdoch from Dufftown was appointed Vice Chair.
Air Links to London
HITRANS and Nestrans have concerns about the prospects for retaining guaranteed high quality air links to London hub airports in the medium to long term which are so critical to the north of Scotland’s economic prosperity. if the UK Government maintains its agreed policy stance of not supporting the development of any new runway capacity in the South East of England, while not intervening to protect UK regional access to Gatwick and Heathrow, peripheral regions of the UK will suffer. The RTPs have developed an evidence based case aimed at securing the current access from the North of Scotland to Gatwick and Heathrow. The report makes the case for both the Highland and North East regions’ access to London including the re-establishment of an Inverness – Heathrow link. The report is available at: http://www.hitrans.org.uk/Documents/North_of_Scotland_Air_Links_to_London_Evidence_Note.pdf
Conon Bridge Station
Design work on the new station continues with prices for a short and a 4 car platform soon to be available. If partnership funding is forthcoming the station could be ready in time to mitigate the impact of the resurfacing works on Kessock Bridge in Spring 2013.
Air Freight in the Highlands and Islands
The Partnership considered a report on the findings of a study on Air Freight in the Highlands and Islands that was jointly commissioned by HITRANS and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited. The report’s authors Northpoint Aviation identified a number of opportunities that exist that could support increased carriage of goods from the Highlands and Islands by air to the benefit of the region’s economy. The report is available to download at: http://www.hitrans.org.uk/Documents/Highlands_and_Islands_Air_Freight_Study.pdf
The HITRANS itinerary and journey planner, now named JourneyGenie, is nearing completion and is the subject of much interest. A number of stakeholder events have been held to provide developers Steer Davies Gleave with feedback. A launch programme is being drawn up with the emphasis on social media.
Food Port Project - Lifting the Spirit
HITRANS has submitted an INTERREG IVB bid to the Food Port project to fund trial movements of bulk spirit by rail. Official confirmation of funding is anticipated in summer 2012. We are working through the Scotch Whisky Association with a number of distillers in Speyside to identify volume availability, location, distance from railhead, loading time, loading facilities etc. A plan will be devised for the efficient transfer of 16-20 containers of bulk spirit to move 2-3 times per week from Elgin to Central Scotland over the trial period.
Air Ambulance Contract – Presentation by Scottish Ambulance Service
Garry Fraser, General Manager of the Scottish Air Ambulance Service gave a presentation informing the Partnership of the Scottish Ambulance Service’s new contract for the operation of Air Ambulance services that will operate for seven years from April 2013. Garry informed the Partnership of the extent to which improvements in service are being built into the new contract taking account of stakeholder feedback.
The Partnership approved plans for the recruitment of a new Partnership Director to replace Dave Duthie who will be retiring in November. Dave has been with HITRANS since June 2006 and before that had a long career in public service with Argyll and Bute Council. It is hoped to have a new Director in post by early November to work alongside Mr Duthie for a handover period.
More information can be found at www.hitrans.org.uk