Highlands & Islands

Pledge of faster Edinburgh to Inverness rail journeys

Train near Aviemore
Image caption David Stewart said rail services were crucial to the Highland economy

Faster train journeys between Edinburgh and Inverness could be achieved by next year, the Scottish government has said.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said a project to reduce times through technical improvements to the railway would be delivered in stages.

He was responding to a question from Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart.

Mr Stewart had sought a time scale for plans to cut journey times by 35 minutes.

The transport minister said improvements would start being made this year which would lead to reduction in times on some services from 2012.

Transport Scotland increases in service frequency and line speed enhancements formed phase one of the project.

It said two additional services would be introduced on the Highland main line from December 2011.

Transport Scotland added that it was working closely with Network Rail to develop the next phase of improvements for the route, which may include additional infrastructure improvements, such as passing loops.

Mr Stewart said: "The minister has advised me that these speed improvements will take place between Stanley junction and Blair Atholl, Inchlea and Newtonmore and Carrbridge and Inverness.

"I will look forward to these improvements, as it is imperative for the Highland economy that we have good business links and routes with the minimum of time spent travelling between the Highlands capital and the other major cities in Scotland if not the UK."

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