Glasgow Subway

Scottish Executive Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 15th April 2010.

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Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour 2:15 pm, 15th April 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive what recent discussions it has had with Strathclyde partnership for transport regarding the Glasgow subway. (S3O-10089)

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

I met David Fagan, the vice-chair of Strathclyde partnership for transport, and senior officials of the partnership on Tuesday, when I was given a presentation on its outline business case for modernisation of the subway. Government officials have been discussing the subject with SPT in recent months.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

The minister will be aware of the importance of Glasgow's subway system not only for the city itself but for the whole of Scotland, as 14 million passengers pass through the underground each year, and, as he outlined, he has heard about the modernisation works that SPT is planning, which will be the first since the 1970s. Does he agree that £67 million of additional investment in SPT each year, as reported in the media this week, is a price that is worth paying to deliver a modernised subway—which has cross-party support—for Scotland's largest city? Will he confirm today that he will assist the SPT modernisation scheme by bringing that £67 million forward?

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

We are in slight danger of getting ahead of ourselves. The SPT board meeting that will receive the same presentation that I received as a courtesy on Tuesday will take place tomorrow, and it is important to see what comes from that.

I acknowledge that the subway is important to people well beyond Glasgow—indeed, Tuesday's presentation included a survey of subway users that showed that 400 people from Fife travelled on the subway on a particular day. We value the subway's contribution to the transport infrastructure of Glasgow and the benefit that is derived beyond that, and we will continue to work with SPT.

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

In referring to the Scottish National Party's vow to boost subway services, the Deputy First Minister said:

"We want to deliver fresh ideas to build a transport system fit for the 21st century; not an antiquated out of date public transport network".

She was supported by Sandra White and John Mason, who was then leader of the SNP group on Glasgow City Council. Avoiding the word "soon", can the minister advise the chamber with regard to the on-going discussions when this Government will put in place that funding and fulfil those commitments?

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Let me go back to what I have just said. The board is meeting tomorrow to consider what was put in front of ministers this week.

As far as timetables and the use of the word "soon" are concerned, I need look no further than the Labour Party in Scotland's manifesto for the next election, which has just been published and in which the sole commitment to one of the most important projects for Glasgow and Edinburgh in a generation—high-speed rail—has been relegated to a wishy-washy commitment to build and submit at some time in the future a business case on the issue. This Government has convened a group of stakeholders to do the necessary work and has already submitted a business case to supplement and complement the work that has been carried out in many other places. With regard to supporting the development of infrastructure in Glasgow, Edinburgh and across Scotland, we are absolutely on the case in a way that the Labour Party has not yet dreamed of.