Free Train Transport for all!

by Julian Westaby.

Thank God! At long last, it looks as if the diabolical rail infrastructure between Scotland’s two biggest cities will be getting upgraded. We’ll not hold our breath but there’s talk in the press today of six trains an hour, between Queen Street and Waverley and a journey time down to 35 minutes. At the moment, quite a few of the Dunning troops interact with ‘the rail’ and whilst general concensus is ‘it’s okay’ it’s not something that people eulogise about! If (and being cynical, we’re talking about decades of disappointment here, so it’s ‘if’) the train service was to improve, it would open up the employment market and stop the Weegie/Embra employment gulf that’s become a bit more than just a pub joke. I know that when offered two similar placements, (or even a potential new senior member of the team) one from Edinburgh and one from Glasgow, we’re probably not the only firm who’d opt for the person nearest them. Not for parochial reasons but for pretty well-founded ‘transport-problem’ reasons. For those of use who have, at some time or another, had to endure the daily Embra-Glesga commute, is it something you’d willingly subject even the keenest student or potential hard-working member of your team to?

This £1billion investment also has to be great news for the slightly-upgraded drovers track that is the M8. This currently appalling and embarrassing link between Scotland’s two main cities could become  increasingly surplus to requirements, if the rail service ran, frequently, with late trains AND at a reasonable cost.

After this announcement, we even got speaking about the ‘what if it was free?’ scenario. Imagine, if you had a ‘citizen’s travel pass’ that allowed you to hop on the train for free? Sure, it would take a diffferent mindset and you’d have to rejig the taxation system a bit to give free train travel to all Scots but what an opportunity. Just think, no parking problems in any major city, no frustration-related car deaths on the M8, no jams, no fumes therefore an instant problem to a lot of Scotland’s  ‘carbon’ problems.

At first, it was a bit of a joke conversation…free train travel but is it really such a bonkers idea? Imagine what it would also do for rural Scotland? Visitors are reticent to take the train because it’s expensive and doesn’t go where they want to go. This would change if the ‘free train travel’ lark caused everyone to migrate to the train network. Everyone would see the sense in trains, investment would flood in and Scotland would become a clever, joined-up World leader in transport solutions, sorting out the balls-up that Dr Beeching and his cohorts made of the railways in the 1950’s.

So, come on, the Mandarins at Hollyoaks…sorry, Hollyrood, make it happen!m8