The Rail Freight Group (RFG) has called for the A9 Perth-Inverness dualling plan to be put on hold arguing that it will lead to loss of freight traffic from the parallel railway and therefore threaten the Highland Main Line railway.
The RFG responded to Transport Scotland’s consultation on A9 dualling, accusing the transport agency of failing to assess alternatives to the project.
It said that a more balanced road/rail investment package, including average speed cameras on the A9, could offer a wider range of economic, environmental and safety benefits, as well as better value for money for the Scottish taxpayer.
David Spaven, the RFG’s Scottish representative, said: “Some £3bn of expenditure is being suggested for a road which was completely rebuilt in the 1980s.
“Meanwhile the railway is still essentially a Victorian route corridor, predominantly single-track between Perth and Inverness, and even the modest but important enhancements suggested for the Highland Main Line have been relegated down the list of Transport Scotland priorities.
“A fully-dualled A9, without substantial parallel investment in the rail network, would have a very significant impact on rail freight, threatening to push more freight from rail to road rather than road to rail, the latter being well-established Scottish Government policy.”
RFG stated that after the dualling, the ability of road hauliers to get from central Scotland to Inverness and back in a single shift would severely limit the scope for increased rail freight traffic.
It added that this would threaten the loss of existing rail flows to road haulage with serious safety and environmental implications, such as the rise of carbon emissions at a time when Scotland is struggling to meet its emissions targets.
RFG has therefore called on Transport Scotland to cease further preparatory work on A9 dualling until it has demonstrated, through multimodal analysis, what package of road and rail investment along the corridor would be the best and most cost-effective option to meet the Scottish Government’s economic, environmental and safety objectives.
The group also calls on them to undertake and publish a full assessment of the impact of A9 dualling on rail freight traffic between central Scotland and Inverness.