Critical Transport Infrastructure (Resilience)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 February 2024.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to ensure that critical transport infrastructure is resilient against extreme weather events. (S6O-03145)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Transport Scotland’s Approach to Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience”, or ACCAR, which was published in August 2023, sets out a strategic framework to secure a well-adapted future for Scotland’s transport system. ACCAR provides our current approach to adaptation and strategic outcomes for road, rail, aviation and maritime transport networks to address the key climate risks affecting Scotland’s transport system. We continue to address known hotspots and look for opportunities to future proof our transport networks so that they can meet the future challenges of climate change.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

It is clear that the effects of the climate emergency are now having a real impact on our roads and railways. The storms and increased rainfall in October last year saw pre-emptive rail line closures for the first time. Those closures led the editor of

Rail Engineer magazine, David Shirres, to comment:

“infrastructure that had shown itself to be resilient to the UK’s past weather may now no longer be so.”

Will the cabinet secretary outline what discussions she has had with Network Rail on ensuring that rail infrastructure is resilient to climate change across Scotland?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has committed to invest £4.2 billion in Scottish rail infrastructure over the next five-year investment period, in line with our high-level output specification. The specification focuses on climate change adaptation and resilience as one of the strategic priorities and it makes provision for enhancing the weather resilience and climate change adaptation strategy. I discussed that with Network Rail earlier this year in London, and this afternoon I will discuss control period 7, which focuses on climate change, with Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

Failure by the Scottish Government to provide any cover for the MV Hamnavoe during its refit in January led to there being no service on Pentland Firth routes at various points over the two-week period during poor weather. Will the Cabinet Secretary for Transport commit to ensuring that a replacement vessel is available on the Stromness to Scrabster route in future, in order to provide much-needed resilience on that lifeline service?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The constituency MSP clearly communicated his concerns about risk during that period. I was reassured that the capacity issues were met during that period but, as the member knows, we are always looking at increasing the freight opportunities for the northern isles and we will continue to do so.