Firth of Forth tunnel part of £22bn Greens rail plan

The Rail for All programme would pull investment from extending the road network, doubling the resources pumped into rail.

The Scottish Greens have proposed a £22bn rail plan which includes nationalising services and creating a tunnel under the Firth of Forth.

The Rail for All programme, devised by Deltix Transport Consulting, would pull investment from extending the road network, doubling the resources pumped into rail.

With proposals to completely electrify the rail network by 2030, the plan would see Scotland’s rail infrastructure produce net zero carbon.

But the boldest plan would see a tunnel built under the Firth of Forth between Edinburgh and Fife.

The project, estimated to cost between £4bn and £6bn, would relieve a “bottleneck” impacting upon services on the east coast, which currently have to run through Haymarket station in Edinburgh along with all other trains leaving the capital.

The tunnel would also see a station created at Leith to connect the city centre to the new crossing.

Greens transport spokesman John Finnie, who commissioned Deltix to develop the plan, said: “The Scottish Greens are proposing the biggest rail investment programme Scotland has ever seen.

“Our fully-costed £22bn plan would transform Scotland’s railway, building a modern, zero-carbon network that is affordable and accessible to all.

“Rail for All is about making rail the natural choice for every journey. Whether you’re commuting, travelling for business or leisure.

“The investment would also be a central component of Scotland’s green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, creating thousands of quality, unionised jobs whilst delivering the infrastructure so necessary to tackle the climate emergency.”

An 18-page report released by the party states that, for every £1bn invested in the plan, there will be a £1.4bn boost to economic activity, along with the creation of 14,000 jobs.

The party is also pushing for the rail network to be publicly operated.

The report said: “Re-integrating ScotRail and Network Rail (Scotland) into one publicly owned company with oversight by Scottish ministers would provide a much more efficient structure, cutting costs by reducing overlapping work, speeding up decision-making and project design, and removing the cost of compensation paid when lines are shut for engineering works.

“Effectively, we recommend a return to the very successful ScotRail that existed before privatisation.”

ScotRail has some under scrutiny in recent years for underperformance, with Scottish ministers deciding to strip its franchisee Abellio of its contract next year.

Under the plans, the Highland Main Line, Far North Line, West Highland Line and Ayr to Stranraer Line will all be upgraded, rural trains will be converted to run on battery power and, where practically possible, towns of 5000 people or more will be connected to the network.

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