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Think tank in transport overhaul demand- STV

STV, 26 June 2009

Scotland should have a new integrated road, rail, and air hub as part of a £25billion transport revolution. Think tank Reform Scotland also said a transport hub, called Grand Central, should be built around Edinburgh Airport.

Grand Central would have high speed rail lines connecting all of Scotland\’s cities and with a link to England.The Power to Connect report also looks at ways to improve the country\’s transport network. Both the A9 and A96 would be upgraded to complete dual carriageways. Looking at how to manage the volume of traffic they examined evidence of how road pricing worked in Norway and Singapore. Tolling and congestion charging in those countries has reduced traffic jams, improved journey times and increased reliability and helped the environment.

However, the report says a Scotland-wide road pricing scheme would have to be an alternative to the existing methods of paying for roads through fuel and vehicle excise duties, and should not be an additional means of raising revenue. To do this the Scottish Parliament would have to have greater tax-raising powers.

Reform Scotland acknowledged its proposals would have "major cost implications at a time when our economy is in recession and budgets are coming under increasing strain". But the report pointed out the costs could be spread over time and added: "We need to do this if we are not to be left behind in economic terms by other countries."

It went on: "A transport system that maximises our potential for faster economic growth is an essential part of any successful economic strategy.

"It will not come cheap, but it is a genuine investment in the future prosperity of Scotland and everyone living in the country."

Reform Scotland chairman Ben Thomson says "A proper long-term integrated transport strategy is vital if Scotland\’s economy is going to compete with the best in the world."  He said the cost could be broken down and spread over time. The cost of the Grand Central hub and a high speed link between Edinburgh and Glasgow alone could cost some £3billion.