David Birrell: Transport services key to economic success

Share this article
2
Have your say

Transport connectivity is essential to ensuring the ongoing economic success of Edinburgh and Scotland.

Confidence is growing and the business community in the capital is hungry for a fully integrated transport system.

We are already on the right course. A huge chunk of the £3.5 billion being invested in the capital at the moment relates to transport. There’s the upgrade of both Waverley and Haymarket rail stations, the new Forth crossing, the Borders railway and, of course, the tram project, all of which are either under way or nearing completion.

On top of that there is the airport, which is now owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, which recently announced a £15 million route development fund to bring new airlines and routes to Edinburgh.

We are working with other cities on connectivity and making sure we get the right rail and air connections. We are actively consulting with bidders for rail franchises on behalf of the business community.

It is all looking positive. What we have to ensure is that all of the transport systems work effectively together, for those who live and work in the city but also for leisure and business visitors.

With more than nine million business and leisure passengers coming into the capital by air, we need to ensure that they are able to make the most of their visit, come back again and become unofficial ambassadors themselves for the city and the experience they had.

Ultimately, it is essential we effectively tap into international markets – and connectivity is key. We are part of a global marketplace.

Edinburgh is in a unique position to deliver on this because of its scale and the appetite for key players in the city to work together towards this shared goal. We have to be really clear on setting our collective priorities as a city.

The Chamber actively engenders links across the various parties. One example of this is that we hosted a discussion with BA chief executive Keith Williams and various members of the tourism industry in the capital last night to keep things moving.

• David Birrell is chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.