On 1 January 2006 a new public agency, Transport Scotland, took on responsibility for improving both road and rail throughout the country. The agency is part of the Scottish Executive's Enterprise, Transport and Life Long Learning Department, and the Chief Executive is directly accountable to the Transport Minister, Tavish Scott. Transport Scotland will work with private sector transport operators, Local Authorities, government and the Regional Transport Partnerships. Dr Malcolm Reed CBE heads the team as Chief Executive, his previous post was as Director General of Strathclyde Passenger Transport.
The aims of Transport Scotland are to:
- Ensure that Scotland's trunk roads and railway systems are managed efficiently, effectively and economically
- Establish and run national concessionary travel schemes
- Deliver the Scottish Executive's programme of enhancements to Scotland's rail and trunk road infrastructure
- Help build Scotland's National Transport Strategy by setting investment priorities.
- Help deliver transport improvements by building a centre of excellence.
Projects currently under consideration, which will be included in the capital investments programme, are the redevelopment of Waverly Station in Edinburgh, which will see the creation of two new platforms, and the Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill.
The Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill proposes to upgrade 9km of existing track extending from Shields Junction to Paisley Gilmour Street Station. A further 1.9km of new track will be laid between Paisley St James Station and Glasgow Airport. Presently, 95% of those travelling to Glasgow Airport do so by road. The Strathclyde Passengers Transport rational behind the bill is that to provide a rail service to the airport will not only benefit the Scottish public but will also encourage more tourism throughout Scotland.
Transport Scotland has already issued two public consultations on Rail Priorities and The Implementation of the Railway Act 2005, Provisions on Closures and Minor Modification – both of which are to close on 21 April 2006.
The Agency also takes on more minor projects such as the study of local traffic problems, and the widening of existing carriageways. The transport lobby group TRANSform Scotland has warned the agency that it needs to concentrate as much on local issues as major projects and should also focus on environmental impacts.