21/04/2014 - Spring Newsletter
Thanks for taking the time to look at this our Spring newsletter. I hope this proves to be a useful update on recent HITRANS activity. This is always a busy time of year for the HITRANS team as we focus on the financial year end and set out our business plan for 2014/15. The HITRANS Partnership Board met in Lochmaddy, North Uist at the beginning of April. This proved to be an interesting meeting and a great opportunity to experience at first hand some of the transport network challenges faced for travel to and from the Uists. The Board enjoyed the visited the causeways at North Ford and Berneray; the harbour infrastructure at Berneray for the Sound of Harris ferry; and the ferry terminal, bus interchange and assembly area at Lochmaddy that was developed with HITRANS funding.
• The Lifting the Spirit project that saw whisky product moved to and from Elgin by rail for the first time since the 1980s is now complete with final report writing underway. Funded through the Food Port project programme of the North Sea Region ERDF programme, the rail trials brought the Elgin freight yard back into use and provided data on the cost, reliability and sustainability of Moray rail freight. We are now working with industry to develop the case for a commercial service for local food and drink producers.
• The First Minister has confirmed the £171m spend on Aberdeen- Inverness during 2014-19 which includes Forres realignment. We are playing our part by working on the Dalcross Station project, with consultants working on the wider business case and timetable options, and also on refreshing the planning permission which has expired. Dalcross will be served by a mix of some through Inverness-Aberdeen trains and Elgin-Inverness locals.
• HITRANS’ partnership project with Sustrans has facilitated the appointment of an Active Travel Project Officer with a dedicated budget of £100k to support the delivery of active travel projects throughout the area. In 2014/15 this has supported the development of HiBike Active Travel Maps, Cycling and Walking Friendly Street Pilots, Small Cycle Infrastructure Projects, Active Travel Events and support for travel behaviour change projects.
• HITRANS was delighted to secure £645k through Sustrans’ Community Links(CL) Programme to deliver two important active travel infrastructure projects. The first project is being delivered in partnership with HIE to improve an old railway bridge, creating new routes for cycling/walking between Inverness Business and Retail Park and Inverness Campus, and accessing the East Inverness development area. The second scheme allows HITRANS, Highland Council and Sustrans to extend the scope of the Green and Active Highland Project to deliver a new cycling/walking path on the NCN 78 between Corran Ferry and Ballachulish Bridge. In addition to these two awards, we welcome the major CL successes that local authorities and other statutory bodies in the Highlands and Islands have had in securing £3m from the total Scotland-wide budget of £14.5m.
• After securing a £700k Bus Investment Fund award for the East Inverness Bus Improvement Corridor project, we are now fully engaged with Highland Council and Stagecoach in delivering the project. We were delighted to welcome Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Transport and Veterans to the Inverness Campus to launch the scheme on 28th February. The project will see a total investment of £2.7m on fifteen new buses, bus priority measures, improved bus waiting facilities and passenger information services.
• The Partnership Board has approved in principle a plan for HITRANS to appoint an transport information officer who will manage the production of information displays for bus stops/ shelters across the region and to ensure up-to-date data is supplied to real-time and static information systems. This will be a 2 year appointment initially.
• HITRANS is also a partner in the SPARA 2020 NPP ERDF preparation fund project. The overarching aim of this project is to deliver sustainable responses to the special challenges and threats to remote and peripheral airports.
More information on the projects detailed above the papers considered at the Partnership board meeting on 4th April can be found at www.hitrans.org.uk