From Scotland's railways to ski slopes, lockdown is denying us some surprising best-ever moments – Alastair Dalton

While most of us are stuck at home, some aspects of life are at near-perfect levels, but will we get to enjoy them?

ScotRail has recorded its best punctuality for years. (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
ScotRail has recorded its best punctuality for years. (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

They say the less you do, the faster time seems to pass.

Lockdown certainly seems to be speeding up the days for me – it’s nearly March already and I feel like I’ve hardly done anything other than eat, sleep and work.

I’ve not left Glasgow since October and our car has hardly turned a wheel in weeks.

I have even turned to cycling round the city’s boundary to seek out new routes – and have delighted at chancing upon amazing views of the hills beyond from several Glasgow parks.

To add variety to my daily morning walks, I’m exploring previously hidden corners of the neighbourhood to add variety to over-familiar circuits.

Back in the house, I’ve become so used to working from one room that when I switched to another to take part in a webinar, the novelty of being in different surroundings made it feel like I was attending a real event.

Seeing people in online meetings has been an unexpected benefit of lockdown – being given the opportunity to speak to and hear from important figures in the transport sector which would previously have required travelling unfeasible distances because of the time and expense involved.

Near-perfect snow conditions at the Lecht snowsports centre this month. Picture: Lecht 2090

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But there are significant things we are all missing out of – and I don’t just mean being in the same place as each other or journeying to favourite or novel faraway places.

It seems particularly ironic that some things in Scotland are now about the best they have ever been – yet we can’t enjoy them.

Snowsports fans can only pray that the near-perfect conditions at our resorts mean there will be a decent covering left to ski and snowboard on when we’re at last permitted to travel there.

Snowploughs battling to re-open the A939 which accesses the Lecht snowsports centre. (Picture: Aberdeenshire Council)

Until then, as The Scotsman’s outdoors columnist Roger Cox tweeted about my story on the Lecht centre’s snowbound access road re-opening after three weeks, it’s a case of “Fans of @lecht2090 look away now”.

As far as mainstream transport is concerned, the few people still travelling by ScotRail are benefiting from its best punctuality for years.

The latest figures, for earlier this month, showed more than 94 per cent of trains were officially “on time”, within five minutes of schedule, about seven percentage points higher than a year ago.

Key workers lucky enough to be commuting on the Dunbar and North Berwick to Edinburgh lines will have found their services even more impressively prompt, with 92-93 per cent of arrivals less than a minute late.

Of course, the fact the operator is carrying only a tenth of its normal passengers and running a third fewer services will have a lot to do with it, and that’s something returning travellers should bear in mind by not adding to delays when we are all finally allowed to board again.

But it does prove that a punctual railway is possible, which is an important and attractive attribute that ScotRail should go all out to retain and improve on.

That’s doubly important amid projections that road congestion could even be worse than before the pandemic when travel restrictions are eased – and not just because of those making a beeline for the snow.

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