Transport plan reveals crackdown on speeding but no Forth crossing
A NEW crackdown on speeding drivers that will include more average-speed cameras was announced by ministers yesterday to cut accidents and reduce carbon emissions on major routes.
The measure is part of a 20-year Scottish transport blueprint that backs UK-wide road pricing and outlines plans for the biggest rail electrification scheme for decades.
The national transport strategy aims to reduce congestion, improve public transport and lower emissions.
However, major new projects such as a "bullet train" between Edinburgh and Glasgow will be considered by a strategic transport projects review, which is not due to be completed until late 2008.
This brought criticism from opposition parties, which said the document amounted to a meaningless wish-list that lacked detail.
Several groups also attacked the lack of a commitment to a new Forth crossing, which is the subject of studies that are being fast-tracked to be completed by next May.
Support from the Scottish Executive for greater speed enforcement follows the success of a camera system which measures average speed over set distances on the A77 in Ayrshire.
The network of cameras, which comprises Britain's longest speed trap, has dramatically cut speeding and accidents on a notorious section of the road.
Such cameras are already considered for use in all major roadworks, as The Scotsman revealed in May, and have been deployed during work on the M8 in Glasgow, M74 in Lanarkshire and A90 near Perth.
The new strategy states: "We will consider the possibilities for expanding the use of average- speed camera systems on Scottish roads in future, taking account of their potential benefits for road safety, driver improvement, emission reduction and speed enforcement."
However, the proposal received only a lukewarm welcome from road safety and motoring groups.
Michael McDonnell, the director of Road Safety Scotland, said: "It is early days for average-speed cameras, and full evaluation is required.
"However, while speed may not be a contributory factor in accidents, it can dictate the outcome in terms of casualties."
Edmund King, the executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Speed is only one element of road safety. Other approaches are important too, such as improving road and junction layouts and clearer signs."
Tavish Scott, the transport minister, who launched the strategy, confirmed the Executive's support for UK-wide road pricing, which he described as "the way forward".
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the lack of commitment to a new Forth crossing was a "sad omission". The Scottish Council for Development and Industry said it remained a "key unresolved question".
Fergus Ewing, the SNP's transport spokesman, dismissed the strategy as "long on rhetoric, but short on action", while David Davidson, his Conservative counterpart, said it was "little more than a wish-list of future aspirations".
He added that a new Forth crossing was Scotland's "number one transport need - no bridge? Some strategy!"
BID TO CUT DELAYS
PRIORITY lanes for buses, lorries and cars carrying passengers could be introduced to speed up journeys and cut delays. Measures to cut congestion at bottlenecks on main routes could include lights to restrict traffic joining from slip roads. Vehicles could also be directed to use motorway hard shoulders.
CAMERAS CUT KILLER SPEED
THE introduction of variable speed cameras on the A77 was the solution to massive official frustration at the number of motorists who broke the limit on one of Scotland's most dangerous roads.
The road claimed 68 lives over ten years in 1,961 accidents, and during one three-week period in 1994, a total of 2,000 speeding drivers were caught on camera.
The advanced speed cameras were introduced in July 2005.
The 775,000 Speed Enforcement Camera System (SPECS) measures average speeds over stretches of a 29-mile section of road between Symington and south of Girvan. Although this is the longest section of road in Britain covered by SPECS, the cameras measure speeds over a series of stretches of between approximately one and 5.5 miles long.
By November 2005, figures showed the cameras had cut offences by up to 87 per cent.
BACKING FOR BUSES
MORE buses may be laid on to take late-night revellers home from town and city centres while funding for bus improvements will be increased, according to the Executive's new bus strategy. There will be a review of bus stop information, while demand-responsive transport, such as "ring and ride" buses, will be expanded.
ELECTRIFICATION of the Edinburgh-Glasgow route is recommended by an accompanying rail strategy. This could be extended from the two cities to Dunblane - and even as far as Aberdeen and Inverness. High-speed Edinburgh-Glasgow and Scotland-London links could be pursued after 2014 if studies show a strong case.
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