Park-and-ride Railway Stations

Enterprise, Lifelong Learning and Transport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:17 pm on 9th March 2006.

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Photo of Sylvia Jackson Sylvia Jackson Labour 2:17 pm, 9th March 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive what steps are being taken to expand park-and-ride railway stations. (S2O-9222)

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

In addition to our funding of local authorities and other bodies for specific projects to increase car parking facilities, we have secured additional car park enhancements through the ScotRail franchise. We are in discussions with First ScotRail and Network Rail to unlock additional investment and to provide a programme of car parking enhancement.

Photo of Sylvia Jackson Sylvia Jackson Labour

As the minister knows, the Stirling constituency has a high number of commuters to Glasgow and Edinburgh. A case has already been made for more car parking at Dunblane railway station, and we hope that a solution will be found soon.

I ask the minister to consider seriously the case that is also being made for a rail halt to the east of Stirling at the site of a major growth area, which is soon to be decided on, and for suitable car parking spaces at any such halt.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

I would be happy to consider the specific argument that Sylvia Jackson makes with regard to development in the Stirling area. It seems eminently sensible to ensure that, as the planning process continues, we build in the need for improvements in the availability of public transport. As the detail comes forward, I will be happy to consider the matter in conjunction with colleagues who have responsibility for planning.

I take Sylvia Jackson's point about pressure on car parking spaces at certain stations. To some extent, such problems are victims of the service's success, but we obviously need to try, where possible, to enhance car parking facilities to encourage more people to use the First ScotRail system. I am aware that the Bridge of Allan station car park has recently been expanded to more than double its previous size. I hope that a considerable amount of such investment happens in the future, not just in Sylvia Jackson's constituency but throughout the country.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

Sylvia Jackson referred to overcrowding at Dunblane station, but many of those spaces are taken by people from Strathearn and further north, for whom Dunblane is the closest station. The minister will be aware of the campaign to reopen Blackford station, which would relieve some of the pressure at Dunblane. Will he give us an update on where the Executive stands in its response to that campaign?

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

I cannot give a precise answer to Mr Fraser's question today, but I am happy to write to him on that point. I can say only that all of us who believe in the future of rail in Scotland and in providing other forms of transport as alternatives to the car must take considerable encouragement from the fact that there are so many strong campaigns throughout Scotland to reopen stations such as the one that Mr Fraser mentioned.

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

Can the minister confirm whether his list of stations requiring improved car parking includes Inverkeithing station, which benefits from the highest frequency of rail services of any station in Fife and therefore tends to have a full car park by about quarter to 8 in the morning? If he solved that problem, he might also ease the pressure on the Forth road bridge, which is the other problem on his desk.

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

I wondered how Mr Morgan would get that in, but as usual he was able to mention it. In recent times, some of us have become very familiar with Inverkeithing station. Indeed, I came through that station on the train last night.

In all seriousness, Mr Morgan has made an entirely appropriate point about the pressure on the bridge. I will be happy to sit down with Fife Council, First ScotRail and Network Rail to look again at the particular pressures on that station and on other stations on the Fife circle. Given the evidence of increased growth in passenger numbers, we need to respond as positively as we can by considering car parking improvements where it is possible for those improvements to be made.