Keeping up the pressure on the Scottish Government, Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has again raised the issue of road and rail improvements in the Grangemouth area, including the potential for a Grangemouth Rail Station.
Cathy asked the Minister, following the recent TransportScotland consultation on rail freight in Scotland, whether his discussions with TransportScotland had included action to develop the Grangemouth freight hub.
The Minister, Stewart Stevenson, noted that on behalf of Scottish ministers. Transport Scotland would meet with Falkirk Council to discuss the Grangemouth freight hub national development in two weeks.
Cathy, who has consistently argued that improvements to road and rail, for freight and for passengers, are all linked and need to be argued for and developed together, then used her supplementary question to highlight the national benefits of developing local infrastructure – and the local opportunities that could be created:
“Does the minister agree that, given the huge benefits for our climate change programme of taking traffic off our roads, we should give the highest possible priority to ensuring the integration of infrastructure in road, rail and sea freight? Would that present further opportunities for low-carbon gains, such as the reintroduction of a passenger service at Grangemouth railway station? I would be grateful if that suggestion could be discussed. In combination with a rail freight service to Grangemouth, it could facilitate development of Grangemouth station.”
The Minister conceded that “Grangemouth is a key part of the freight infrastructure and is a link between the road and rail networks, in particular. As investment is driven down to Grangemouth through the use of freight, opportunities in relation to passenger traffic will be created. We continue to monitor the position.”
The Minister was also tackled on the particular issue of Avon Gorge funding by Linlithgow MSP Mary Mulligan:
“When I spoke to West Lothian Council officials recently, they were unable to confirm what Scottish National Party councillors in Falkirk were telling local hauliers, which was that the Scottish Government was about to provide finance for the Avon gorge crossing to be started and completed. Will the minister confirm that that is the case? If not, when is he likely to make such an announcement?”
The Minister replied: “I recognise that Falkirk Council and West Lothian Council have for quite a long time been carrying out very substantial work on this matter. The priorities of the current roads programme in the strategic transport projects review are clear and we will consider the A801 upgrade and other measures promoting access to Grangemouth in particular as we consider future spending reviews.”