Give rail powers back to councils

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THE plea for more local decision making must also include the return of rail powers to elected local councils and the six relevant Regional Transport Partnerships, away from a centralised and inaccessible Transport Scotland bureaucracy (“More council powers plea”, News, 3 November).

This unelected and domineering quango continues to frustrate local authority aspirations for new/reopened lines/stations and necessary safeguarding of land for rail improvements. East Renfrewshire Council’s hopes for new Barrhead South and Uplawmoor park and ride stations were brutally crushed by Transport Scotland’s demand that such improvements were removed from their Local Development Plan.

Progress on Strathclyde Partnership for Transport’s long planned Crossrail route is also being blocked by the civil servant bureaucrats despite a sound business case for a more efficient and competitive railway already having been confirmed.

Local authority initiative and dynamic were the key drivers that made Scotland a UK “pace setter” in new/reopened stations and lines, invariably generating patronage far higher than expected.

But authorisation of fresh projects has now been reduced to a mere trickle since the creation of Transport Scotland.

Returning rail powers to local level is vital to exploiting valuable knowledge, understanding commitment and expertise now stifled and suppressed by the dictat of a remote and authoritarian transport bureaucracy.

Ken Sutherland, Glasgow