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28 November 2008

Stewart Stevenson MSP delivers Christmas encouragement to Royal Mail posties at Peterhead

Stewart Stevenson MSP has visited Royal Mail’s Peterhead Delivery Office to pass on best Christmas wishes and encouragement to the postmen and women at their busiest time of year.

Mr Stevenson was shown round the Delivery Office by local Delivery Office manager and was introduced to all the postmen and women who are working hard doing their bit to sort and deliver the area’s share of the estimated total Scottish Christmas postbag of 214 million items. The SNP MSP also presented a bottle of Scottish Parliament whisky to the staff as an early Christmas present.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said: “It was great to meet the hard-working Royal Mail postmen and women at Peterhead and to see at first hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year.

“Posties do such an important job at this time of year and I like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.”

Garry Saunders, Delivery Office Manager at Peterhead said: “Christmas is the busiest time of year, and our people really do pull out all the stops throughout the year to ensure mail is delivered quickly but even more so over the busy festive period. So we are pleased that Mr Stevenson came along to witness the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.”

He added: “The postal staff do a fantastic job at this time of year to ensure that friends and families stay in touch through their Christmas greetings and gifts. And as usual, we urge our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings!”

It is also vital that people remember the last posting dates for mail. These are:
  • Saturday 20 December for 1st Class items
  • Thursday 18 December for 2nd Class items
  • Tuesday 23 December for Special Delivery items
  • Friday 12 December for airmail items to Western Europe
  • Wednesday 10 December for Eastern Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan
  • Friday 5 December for mail to the rest of the world
Customers can help Royal Mail ensure that all their letters, cards and parcels are delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible by taking a few easy steps:
  • Use a 1st Class stamp! – Post 1st Class for just 36p and have your Christmas card delivered the next day – anywhere in the UK.
  • Post early! – Avoid disappointment by posting your cards and parcels early. The last posting dates this Christmas are: December 18 for 2nd Class mail; December 20 for 1st Class mail; December 23 for Special Delivery.
  • Use a postcode! – A clearly addressed card or parcel, with a postcode, and return address on the back of the envelope, will ensure quick and efficient delivery.
  • Use Special Delivery – For valuable packages and parcels guarantee delivery with Royal Mail’s Special Delivery, which means your gift is tracked, traced and insured against loss.
  • For more information about Christmas with Royal Mail visit: www.royalmail.com or call 08457 740 740.

27 November 2008

STEVENSON DELIGHTED AS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT WINS MORE DEVOLVED POWERS OVER SCOTLAND’S SEAS

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement that control over planning and conservation off Scotland’s coast has been devolved to Edinburgh. Following an agreement reached through the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), Scotland’s authority in these issues will now stretch to 200 nautical miles from her coast, rather than 12 nautical miles as had previously been the case.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I am delighted that the Scottish Government has managed to convince our counterparts in the other Devolved Governments and the UK Government that responsibility for these waters should be devolved.

“By having control of marine planning and conservation, we will be able to ensure that there is a joint up, complementary approach to fishing conservation and to where offshore power is generated.

“The waters off the Banff & Buchan coast are of vital economic importance to residents thanks to the fishing industry, but they also offer massive potential for wave, tidal and offshore wind power. It is important that our waters are managed effectively, and by extending devolved responsibility out to the 200 mile limit we can ensure that decisions appropriate for Scotland are taken in Scotland.

“This agreement also represents a success for the Joint Ministerial Committee mechanism for discussion and negotiation between the Devolved Governments and the UK Government, which had fallen into disuse before the SNP came to power. One of our earliest moves after winning the election was to successfully press for it to be resurrected and this agreement only serves to demonstrate that we were right to do so.”

26 November 2008

Minister visits £5 million Harthill Footbridge

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson will visit M8 Harthill Services today to officially open the new £5 million footbridge now in use by the public.

The iconic structure, which replaces the old bridge built in the 1960’s, provides much-needed improved access for the Heart of Scotland (Harthill) Services and the Local Transport Interchange (LTI).

Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, said:

"While the old bridge stood for many years, this is a fantastic new footbridge which is welcomed by users of the M8 from near and far.

"It is clear that local communities are already benefitting from improved access to the local transport interchange. That is why I am pleased to visit Harthill again now that the project is complete."

The eye-catching steel structure, designed by Buro-Happold, comprises a 65 metre main span with a spiral design and includes a covered walkway. Main contractor Raynesway Construction Limited managed the project, including the delicate operation in October to lift the footbridge into place, using Britain’s largest mobile crane.

Harthill was the first motorway service station to be built in Scotland following the completion of the M8 in the early 1970s. The new footbridge completes the redevelopment of the Harthill site, which includes a Transport Scotland investment in a £1.1 million transport interchange.

For further details see M8 Harthill Footbridge Replacement

25 November 2008

STEVENSON’S ANGER AS WHISKY INDUSTRY IS RAIDED BY WESTMINSTER AGAIN

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has condemned the announcement, hidden in the footnotes of Alistair Darling’s pre-budget report, that whisky duties are due to rise for the second time this year. Even after the fall in VAT is factored in, the 8% rise in duty means that the Treasury’s take on the average 70cl bottle has risen by 29p from £7.42 to £7.71.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The Whisky sector is vital to the Scottish economy, and for Alistair Darling to bury his tax hike in the footnotes of his report without even mentioning it in his speech is an insult to an industry that has already been targeted by the Treasury this year.

“The budget in March already saw a 9% increase on the duty which led to a £40 million fall in alcohol revenues. Why he thinks that this latest increase will have the opposite effect, and raise more money for the Treasury, is beyond me. Taken together, duty has risen by 80p on the average bottle making this the biggest one-year increase in alcohol duty since 1974-75.

“The Whisky industry is one that is growing, as witnessed by the reopening of Glenglassaugh distillery in Portsoy, but the UK market is a fragile one. Rather than punishing success, the Treasury should be supporting an industry that is vital to Scotland’s economy.

20 November 2008

STEVENSON WELCOMES SCOTTISH VICTORY IN FISHING NEGOTIATIONS

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the news that the rest of the European Union is set to follow Scotland’s lead in adopting the Cod Recovery Plan, based on the pioneering Conservation Credits Scheme already established in Scotland.

The new Cod Recovery Plan decides how much time many European fishermen are allowed to spend at sea. It links their allocation of time at sea with conservation-friendly measures in much the same way as Scotland's pioneering Conservation Credits Scheme.

The adoption of the Scottish scheme underlines the fact that Scotland is leading the rest of Europe in adopting innovative conservation measures and comes as a reward to the many sacrifices made by the Scottish fishing industry.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The scale of this victory in Brussels is one that should not be underestimated. Under this scheme, much of the day to day management of European fisheries will be handed back to member states to administer.

“Having already adopted much of these new measures, Scotland’s fleet will find it significantly easier to make the necessary adjustments. These measures will help bring an end to the tragedy of discarded fish that are thrown back because skippers have reached their quota limit.

“In much the same way as the Conservation Credits Scheme, the number of days vessels can spend at sea will depend on the strictness of the conservation measures that they undertake, rewarding those who do most to protect fish stocks.

“This Scottish success story in Brussels only serves to underline what can happen when Scotland is able to speak with its own voice in Europe on the issues that are important to it.”

STEVENSON DELIGHTED BY TOP AWARD FOR MACDUFF MARINE AQUARIUM

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has expressed his delight at the news that Macduff Marine Aquarium has won the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions’ Best Visitor Experience 2008 award.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Macduff Marine Aquarium has seen off stiff competition to scoop this prestigious award, demonstrating that it is one of the best tourist attractions in North East Scotland.

“The staff at the aquarium work extremely hard and I am sure that they will be immensely proud that their efforts have been justly recognised with this award. Many people from across Scotland and beyond visit the aquarium every year and this award demonstrates that what they all have in common is how much they enjoy their experience.”

19 November 2008

Strategic Transport Projects Review

Ministers today set out a multi-billion pound transport blueprint to grow Scotland's economy.

The details were announced in the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR), which sets out the future investment programme for transport in Scotland over the next 20 years - the biggest and most ambitious Scottish transport plan ever published.

29 major transport investment priorities across Scotland have been identified as supporting the future growth of Scotland's businesses and communities including:
  • A new strategy for a toll free £1.72-£2.34 billion replacement Forth Crossing - delivering a £1.7 billion reduction on original cost estimates.
  • The existing Forth Bridge will be made a dedicated public transport only corridor.
  • A new rail station at Gogar created to integrate with the Edinburgh tram network and provide onward connection for passengers using Edinburgh Airport.
  • Ambitious proposals to revolutionise the rail network including:
  1. Electrification of rail network.
  2. Major enhancements to Edinburgh-Glasgow line reducing journey time to 35 minutes, with 13 services per hour (from current 5-6 per hour).
  3. Key components of Aberdeen Crossrail scheme to be delivered. Improvements to the services between Aberdeen and Inverness will give consideration to a station at Kintore.
  4. Glasgow rail improvements, including construction of new city centre stations linking the rail networks to the north, south and east of the city and the development of a Metro / Light Rapid Transit network across Glasgow, improving access to areas of economic activity and key public services, such as the new Southern General Hospital.
  5. Faster, more frequent rail services linking Fife, Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, Perth and Glasgow - reducing journey times between Inverness and central belt by up to 30 minutes and by up to 20 minutes between Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
  6. Upgrade of Haymarket Interchange.
  • Upgrades to the A96, including dualling between Inverness and Nairn, new Nairn bypass, new Inveramsay Bridge, and new connection between A9 and A96 providing relief for the Raigmore Interchange.
  • Programme of improvements for A9 including upgrading to dual carriageway standard between Perth and Inverness.
  • Upgrades to the A82, including measures such as road widening at selected locations between Tarbert and Inverarnan and between Corran Ferry and Fort William, as well as climbing lanes and overtaking lay-bys, road alignments, junction improvements, hard strips.
  • Package of improvements to the A90 between Aberdeen and communities in the North East, building on existing plans to dual the Balmedie to Tipperty section.
  • A75/A76/A77 all to be upgraded to boost economic and tourism links with port of Stranraer, including dualling A77 around Ayr and Dalry bypass.
  • Proposals for new Dundee city bypass or upgrade of the Kingsway.
  • Strategy for new national park and ride sites serving Aberdeen at Dyce and Charleston, Dundee, Edinburgh at Pitreavie and Halbeath, and Glasgow at Bargeddie, Fullarton and Bannockburn.
  • Plans for a new national integrated ticketing scheme allowing people to travel across all public transport using just one ticket.
  • Rail and road infrastructure improvements to improve freight links from our major freight terminals of Grangemouth, Mossend and Coatbridge to key points across Scotland and into England.
The STPR is the first nationwide, multi-modal, evidence based appraisal of Scotland's current transport system and as forecast over the next 20 years.

During his statement to Parliament, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson also signalled progress on fast-tracked STPR projects - the Forth Replacement Crossing and the Edinburgh-Glasgow Rail Improvement Programme, the Highland Main Line between Inverness and Glasgow/Edinburgh via Perth and rail services between Aberdeen and Inverness.

Mr Stevenson said:

"Good transport infrastructure is vital to delivering increased sustainable economic growth.

"This STPR is at the leading edge of transport planning at a national level, it is ambitious and it delivers for the whole of Scotland.

"The programme I am announcing today identifies how we can improve the existing infrastructure we have, as well as targeting future transport investment priorities across Scotland over the next twenty years.

"We are already fast tracking key infrastructure projects such as the Forth Replacement Crossing and the Edinburgh to Glasgow rail improvements programme - projects vital to Scotland's economic growth. But the STPR identifies investment priorities across the country - from upgrades to key Highland routes like the A9, A96 and A82 to improvements to the rail services between central Scotland and our northern economic centres of Inverness and Aberdeen.

"The plans I have set out today clearly identify where we as a government see the priorities for investment against a backdrop of increasing pressure on our budget. This is a significant programme of prioritised schemes for delivery and the whole of Scotland is set to benefit.

"The Scottish Futures Trust will be central to securing maximum value for money for the public purse. As a centre of expertise which facilitates project collaboration, it will help release up to £150 million a year in extra investment in the fabric of Scotland's public services.

"To ensure effective delivery, we will take forward an action programme with key delivery bodies in the New Year. "

Mr Stevenson confirmed the Forth Replacement Crossing project will be taken forward via a Parliamentary Bill by the end of next year.

Meanwhile, the design and location of the new station designed to integrate with the Edinburgh tram network and provide onward connection for passengers using Edinburgh Airport have been revealed. The £37 million station is to be built on the existing Fife line immediately to the north of the A8 (Gyle) roundabout. The station is part of the ambitious Edinburgh Glasgow Rail Improvement Programme announced last September and represents more cost-efficient alternative to the discontinued EARL project.

Mr Stevenson added:

"The Forth Replacement Crossing will be the biggest transport infrastructure project in Scotland for a generation. The serious doubts surrounding the future resilience of the current crossing to general traffic are now well understood. The need for a new bridge has not diminished and progress has and will continue to be made.

"I am therefore delighted we are now in a position to not only set out the next steps for this vital economic lifeline for the East Coast but also, as our work becomes more detailed, identify how to deliver this project as efficiently as possible."

Today's STPR announcement sets out future transport investment priorities for Scotland's strategic transport networks and which will open up business opportunities and deliver sustainable economic growth.

Today's STPR announcement sets out the investment priorities for Scotland's strategic land-based (road and rail) transport networks.

Transport Scotland is the national transport agency responsible for trunk roads, rail and national concessionary travel. It is an Executive agency directly accountable to Scottish Ministers and came into effect on January 1, 2006.

The STPR was carried out by Government agency Transport Scotland, which is already delivering major schemes such as the rail links to the Borders, Glasgow Airport and between Airdrie and Bathgate. Among a number of road improvements, it is also delivering the M74 Completion, Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and last month opened the Clackmannanshire Bridge across the Upper Forth.

By 2011, Transport Scotland will be well on the way to delivering £12.5 billion of net economic benefit for Scotland and will have supported more than 13,000 jobs across the construction, road maintenance and rail industry in the last year.

STEVENSON DELIGHTED BY NEW MEASURES TO HELP FUEL POOR

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that the budget for tackling fuel poverty in Scotland is to be increased by 20% to £55.8 million a year. The new Energy Assistance Package will help the one million Scots officially designated as being fuel poor through increasing incomes, reducing fuel costs and improving energy efficiency.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“At a time when Banff & Buchan households face rocketing fuel bills I am delighted that the SNP Government is focused on this issue and it shows its commitment to doing all that it can, within the powers that are available, to tackle fuel poverty.

"This statement adds to our announcement of an extra £10 million of funding for the free central heating programme this year and its expansion from next year to include young families who may be at risk of fuel poverty this winter.

"Alongside today's announcement the Scottish Government is also working hard to ensure a fair share of the money for the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) is spent in Scotland. While the SNP Government is using its powers to tackle fuel poverty, the UK Government must act to support people struggling to pay their bills this winter with an extra £100 for pensioners, a VAT holiday this winter to help all households with high prices and reduced VAT on all energy efficiency measures.

"Today's announcement shows that the SNP is focused on the needs of families and the vulnerable in Banff & Buchan this winter. Will Westminster now do their part?"

13 November 2008

STEVENSON WELCOMES VICTORY IN BATTLE TO SAVE POST OFFICE CARD ACCOUNT CONTRACT

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the news that the Westminster Government has caved in to the enormous levels of pressure being put on them by people across the country, and has announced that the Post Office will retain the contract for the Post Office Card Account (POCA).

Gordon Brown’s Government had dithered over the decision and had appeared to be on the brink of awarding the contract to Pay Point, putting thousands of local Post Offices under threat as a result.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Banff & Buchan has already seen large numbers of Post Offices close in recent years, and the last thing that people across the region who rely on services provided by the Post Office needed was the threat of further cuts.

“The UK Government’s dithering and inaction while it considered privatising the contract is hard to understand given that stripping the Post Office of the Card Account would inevitably have led to further widespread closures.


“The vital lifeline service provided by the Post Office Network in Banff & Buchan has already been savaged by cuts and why the Labour Government was so intent on inflicting further damage to local communities is simply beyond me. I am glad that the UK Government has abandoned its plans and applaud the efforts of the many local campaigners that have caused them to think again”.

12 November 2008

STEVENSON SLAMS WESTMINSTER MOVES TO FORCE SINGLE PARENTS INTO WORK

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has condemned moves by the UK Government to force single parents across the UK to find work or face losing up to 40% of their benefits. From the 24th of November 2008, lone parents with children over the age of 12 will be forced to claim for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), rather than the current income support, with all the penalties for not finding work that this entails. Over the next 2 years, the cut off age will be lowered further to children over the age of 7.

These changes will require lone parents to sign on fortnightly, and have an action plan for seeking employment of at least 16 hours. The longer they are on JSA the more will be required of them to seek paid work, or else they will face sanctions including losing up to 40% of their adult benefit. As benefits are reserved, Westminster’s policy will also apply north of the border.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is clear that Westminster seriously undervalues the difficult task lone parents often face in raising their children. Although lone parents who choose to work should receive as much support as possible, I do not believe forcing them into poorly paid jobs with the threat of sanctions is a sensible measure.

“In two years, single parents with children as young as 7 will be forced into finding whatever employment they can. I don’t believe it is acceptable to classify single parents looking after young children as being unemployed, and making what can already be a difficult situation even worse.

“With unemployment figures rising thanks to current economic problems, does the Westminster Government really want to increase the number of people seeking jobs by viewing lone parents as being unemployed? Lone parents and their children in Banff & Buchan will only suffer as a result of this poorly considered move.”

10 November 2008

£8.5 million plan to keep Scotland moving this winter

Scotland’s national transport agency is investing more than ever before in keeping our roads open for business and communities this winter.

Transport Scotland’s £8.5 million winter maintenance plan sees fleets of gritters and hundreds of staff mobilised across the country, putting months of planning into action.

The early arrival of snow and ice this year means operating companies and contractors have already been busy treating affected parts of Scotland’s 2,000 mile motorway and trunk road network.

Now, with more cold weather expected as winter progresses, road users are urged to ensure they do their bit by planning their journeys carefully. Drivers can access the Traffic Scotland website, www.trafficscotland.org, to get 'real-time' journey planning information about road and weather conditions as well as 95 'live-eye' cameras that give a valuable overview of the network.

Transport Scotland has invested in the Traffic Scotland website to ensure the service is resilient and can cope with the additional demand expected when weather conditions worsen.

In addition to the online information, Transport Scotland’s Customer Care Line - 0800 028 1414 - gives access to public transport timetables, making the decision to use a train or bus easier.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson, said:

"Keeping Scotland moving is vital to the Scottish economy, and this significant investment will ensure that our road maintenance companies are able to keep our lifeline routes open for business this winter.

"Obviously mother nature can interfere with the best laid plans, but our operating companies are as well prepared as they have ever been due to this record investment. With some areas having experienced the first cold spell, we are already seeing the benefits and that is set to continue over the coming months.

"Road users can play their part too, and I would urge people to use the Traffic Scotland website and Customer Care Line to check road conditions and all public transport alternatives. Advance journey planning can be a valuable tool which can help speed up journey times for businesses and commuters this winter, whilst bringing benefits for the environment."

Transport Scotland is committed to ensuring winter operations are delivered in a more sustainable way and one recent aspect of this is the use of pre-wetted salt to treat the roads.

This is the second year that all operating companies will have used this type of treatment that adds brine to traditional salt treatments to help it stick to the road. This makes become effective quicker, uses less salt and is therefore more environmentally friendly.

7 November 2008

STEVENSON APPLAUDS £270 MILLION TO REDUCE NHS WAITING TIMES

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has applauded the announcement of £270 million to drive down waiting times for NHS patients across Scotland over the next three years. Of this year’s funding, NHS Grampian will receive £8.298 million to reduce the length of time patients need to wait between referral and treatment to a maximum of 18 weeks by 2011.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The period between being referred for treatment and receiving that care can be an enormously stressful time for patients, and as such I am sure that this move to reduce waiting times will be welcomed by residents of Banff & Buchan.

“The SNP government are committed to bringing waiting times down to a maximum of 18 weeks, and I am delighted that we have put the money in place to achieve this over the next three years.

“I am confident that hardworking doctors, nurses and members of staff in NHS Grampian will be able to achieve the targeted reduction in waiting times thanks to the money that the Scottish Government is making available. We are committed to continually improving the NHS in Scotland and driving down waiting times for patients is a vital step for us to take”.

STEVENSON WELCOMES FUNDING FOR FISHING VESSEL SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has echoed Scottish Government calls for Banff & Buchan fishing vessel owners to apply for a share of the £400, 000 that has been made available to maintain safety equipment on Scotland’s fishing fleet.

Individual boats are eligible for up to £250 each as part of the three year action plan agreed between the Scottish Government and the fishing industry’s fuel task force.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Banff & Buchan’s fishing industry has faced a significant challenge in trying to cope with rising operating costs. Because fish are sold at auction, they are unable to pass these costs onto their customers in the same way that other industries can, which is why Scottish Government support through the current period is needed.

“As well as ensuring that our fishing fleet is as safe as possible through helping to maintain safety equipment, Banff & Buchan skippers will have one less operating expense to worry about.

“I would encourage all fishing vessel owners in Banff & Buchan to apply for this assistance to help reduce their operating costs. In conjunction with other parts of the £29 million of funds made available, it will at least go some way to combating the cost of high fuel prices”.

3 November 2008

Commuters to benefit from new rail services

Rail passengers across Scotland are set to benefit from timetable improvements introduced this winter. The new services will take effect from the commencement of the winter timetable on Sunday 14 December.

Operated by First ScotRail, improvements for rail passengers on the Aberdeen to Inverness via Inverurie route will see a significantly improved morning service, allowing more people to make the switch to public transport for their commute to work. As part of the service improvements, passengers will see:

Improved frequency of through services between Edinburgh to/from Inverurie via Aberdeen and calling at Dyce, with six services increasing to 10.

An improved spread of morning peak services from Inverurie to Aberdeen, with three extra trains and two extra departures during the evening peak period.

The timetable improvements come in the wake of significant work to enhance Inverurie Station. The single carriage road bridge at the station has been replaced by a new two lane structure and, as part of the project, step-free access has been provided to platform two for Aberdeen-bound trains.

The new bridge also provides a good step free walking route between platforms for the first time, significantly improving disabled access.

Rail passengers on the Edinburgh-Perth-Inverness route will now benefit from:

An hourly service between Edinburgh and Perth, with some services continuing to Inverness, and an hourly Edinburgh-Dundee service introduced as a result of changed stopping patterns in Fife.

A new morning commuter service from Blair Atholl at 0712, calling at Pitlochry at 0726 and Dunkeld at 0739, allowing for an arrival in Perth at 0759.

A new 0510 service from Perth to Edinburgh, providing a connection into the 0700 train to London. Dunblane and Bridge of Allan customers will also benefit from a connection to the early morning London train. The 0530 Stirling – Edinburgh service will start from Dunblane at 0521 and call at Bridge of Allan at 0524.

The package of improvements in the far north will see:

A new fourth Far North service introduced between Inverness and Thurso and Wick, providing an afternoon service from Inverness and connection for the evening Scrabster – Stromness ferry. It also complements the additional southbound service introduced in December 2006.

Four services in each direction (Monday to Saturday) on the Kyle of Lochalsh line all year round.

A new service on Friday and Saturday evenings from Inverness to Tain, departing at 23.20. Three additional Sunday services, each way, between Tain and Inverness, and a fourth train each way between Invergordon and Inverness

Retiming of services aimed at improving connections and frequency of services for commuter journeys with connections from north of Inverness to the morning National Express service to London Kings Cross.

Commuters at Aviemore and Carrbridge will benefit from a retimed morning service, arriving in Inverness at 0846, and Carrbridge customers will benefit further with the 1656 Inverness to Edinburgh service calling additionally at Carrbridge at 1727.

Meanwhile, a package of improvements for rail passengers between Glasgow and Gourock will see revised departure times on Sundays to improve connections with ferry services at Gourock.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"These new services will mean even more people will have the opportunity to make the switch to public transport.

"We are working hard to identify locations under-served by the existing rail network and are investing significantly in extending services – both in terms of expanding infrastructure and plugging gaps in the timetable.

"The rail network in Scotland makes a significant contribution to Scotland’s economic and social health, which is why we are announcing a series of service improvements across Scotland, making the switch to pubic transport an easier one."

Mary Grant, Managing Director of First ScotRail, said:

"First ScotRail works closely with Transport Scotland to identify opportunities to provide additional services, improve journey times and meet the needs of communities across the country.

"This new, more frequent timetable will benefit our customers and help us meet the growing demand for rail travel."

New look, easier to read timetables will be available at staff stations from mid November. Full details of the new winter timetable can also be found online at www.firstscotrail.com.
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