Covid-19 (Transport)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th May 2020.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

We are looking at a range of options to help to manage aspects of demand. Arrangements are already in place so that people can only book train tickets for longer journeys if they do so in advance.

The challenge is short commuter journeys, for which it is much more difficult to manage the numbers. The Strathclyde electric network alone accounts for 40 per cent of our rail network commuters, and many of those individuals are going only one or two stops on rail. A booking system in that type of environment would not work, so it becomes very challenging to operate a system in that way.

The member is right that the existing assessment, which has been carried out by ScotRail, is that capacity on our rail network will be constrained to between 11 and 14 per cent, depending on the type of train that is being used on a particular route. That is why it is critically important that we do not expect to simply be able to put systems in place that allow the transport system to go back to normal. To meet the demand, businesses and individuals have to take the responsibility of changing working arrangements and encouraging changes such as working from home and flexible start and finish times, in order to avoid travel at peak times.

The public should be trying to use active travel for short distances rather than using trains or buses at peak times. We should all be looking at the role that we can play to manage demand. It is just not possible to expect us to put a simple system in place that will be able to manage the demand in the transport system while going back to normal.