Devolved government in Scotland improves rail and water transport

Many aspects of the devolved government’s practice in Scotland offer an antidote to gloom.

Caring measures taken for its young, elderly and unfit citizens have been widely recorded but in the following posts its good thinking on food, co-operatives, energy and security will be touched on. 

Today we look at public transport – the Scottish Government’s measures to reduce traffic congestion, fuel use and emissions. 

In June there was an Antidote post about a grant award of more than £800,000 from the Scottish Government‘s freight facilities grant scheme, which aims to take lorries off the road and have goods transported by sea or rail instead. The dredging work in Kirkcaldy Harbour [below] is progressing well.


Tim Hall, operations director of the beneficiary Hutchisons Flour Mill, explained that the project would allow the firm to bring in larger quantities of the different wheats it needs by sea rather than by road, adding: “We will also remove almost 250,000 lorry miles from Scotland’s roads.” 


Despite calls in England for another Beeching, Scottish rail services are expanding. In 2006 the Waverley Railway (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament and passenger services will be reopened this year. The Borders Railway Project aims to re-establish passenger railway services cut in 1969 from Edinburgh through Midlothian to Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders. 

Another grant to improve facilities at four sites is dependent on a four year long commitment to rail rather than road by Lafarge Cement, enabling the distribution of bagged cement by rail, generating an estimated £0.73 million in environmental benefits during this period. 


Local government is also acting: in 2005 – as part of the Lowland Canals project – East Dunbartonshire Council used commercial barges on the Forth and Clyde Canal to ship tonnes of electronic and electrical waste from Glasgow and Bishopbriggs to Twechar. By 2010 it was reported at the Lowland Canals Customer Forum that freight on Scottish canals has removed 2 million lorry miles from Scotland’s roads over the last 3 years. 

The Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift, became operational in 2002, connecting the  Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. In operation below: half way round.


 A transport initiative involving the return of freight, after a lapse of 90 years, on the Caledonian Canal is being tested in a bid to reduce the toll of Scottish road accidents on the A82, one of the most dangerous routes in the country. A six-month trial, using a large barge operated by the Great Glen Shipping Co, is carrying timber from Loch Etive, near Oban, to Inverness in regular trips, taking 15,000 lorry trips off the road between Inverness and Fort William, where there have been many serious Scottish road accidents and a great number of fatalities, in the last few years.

Transport Scotland reports that this was assisted by Scottish Government grants of £255,000. 

Another Scottish Government Freight Facilities Grant award of £133,000 to Boyd Brothers (Haulage) Ltd supported the provision of a mobile floating pier on Loch Etive. This is now in use and is expected to transfer 108,000 tonnes of timber by water over the next five years.

It is expected the two grants will not only help improve connections between Scotland’s east and west coasts and beyond, but over the six month period of the pilot project will together remove up to 188,000 lorry miles, reducing emissions as well as congestion and wear and tear to roads.


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