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1/9/2014 - New Year Newsletter

The New Year has kicked off with a bang for the HITRANS team as we are moving office from Inverness Airport to Ardross Terrace in the centre of Inverness. If busy diaries are anything to go by it looks like the new location will prove very convenient for the team and will help improve our engagement with some important colleagues and stakeholders. To this end we are particularly pleased that we will share the new office floor with SCDI with whom we already enjoy a close working relationship. The new office is the Rear Section, Second Floor at 6/7 Ardross Terrace. Our main phone number will still be 01667 460464.

The end of 2013 saw some really good news for HITRANS with the announcement by Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Transport of the projects that had secured funding through the Bus Investment Fund. It was really nice to get final confirmation of the successful outcome from the bid submitted by HITRANS in partnership with Highland Council and Stagecoach North Scotland. We will certainly be kept busy delivering this project over its 2 ½ year lifetime. A news release has been posted on the website at the following link ( and gives a bit more information on this project.

HITRANS were pleased to accept the invitation from the FlySkye campaign to attend a presentation by final year Architecture students from UHI on their vision for a terminal building and hangar in the event that scheduled air services could be established to Ashaig Airport in Skye. The students have done a great job of developing their proposals and the presentation was very well received by all who attended the event. HITRANS will continue to work with Highland Council and HIE in developing the feasibility of re-establishing air services to Skye. The next stages for the Working Group will be engaging with the CAA on the possibility of GNSS controlled landing at the airfield and engaging with key local businesses to help quantify demand for a new service.

On Active Travel we are currently developing a series of active travel maps, linked into the audits carried out in previous years. The maps aim to encourage a modal shift in walking and cycling within larger communities in the HITRANS area. This project includes the development of an interactive website to ensure the maps are well used. Additionally we are working with Sustrans to help partners in our area to develop their Community Links bids for the next 2 years to ensure the HITRANS area gains its share of the £20M budget available.

HITRANS working in partnership with Transport Scotland have appointed Dr Theo van Stratum to project manage the development and implementation of Smart and Integrated Ticketing projects in Highlands and Islands. Theo joins HITRANS on a 12 month contract. Theo is helping support the delivery of Transport Scotland’s Smart and Integrated Ticketing Programme. Theo’s initial focus has been in supporting project delivery in Argyll and Moray.

Through the Food Port North Sea Region Programme ERDF project HITRANS was able to establish the Lifting the Spirit project that saw whisky product moved between Elgin and central Scotland by rail instead of road between September and November 2013. The project is now in the evaluation stage and has been boosted by an increase in budget from the ERDF Programme.

HITRANS is involved in a number of EU funded projects. Two of these have been the subject of a great deal of recent activity for the team as final grant claim forms for the START project and TransTourism (Journey Genie) are in the process of being submitted for approval.

The SPARA 2020 NPP ERDF preparation fund project partners are working hard to hone the initial project concept into a coherent project for submission to the Northern Periphery and Atlantic Area main call for projects later this year. An online survey is currently being used to inform the project development by asking stakeholders for views on the main priorities for smart and sustainable airport operations in the Northern Periphery.

After a period of inactivity following the publication of the Healthcare Transport: Recommendations of the Short Life Working Group report in May 2013 we were pleased to receive information from the Scottish Government in December with an invitation to Health Boards to work with RTPs, Scottish Ambulance Service and local authorities to develop proposals for two pilots of an integrated model, one in an urban and one in a rural setting that explore new approaches to the provision and integration of health and social care transport. This has allowed NHS Highland to submit as one of the potential pilot the proposal developed in partnership with HITRANS, Highland Council and SAS for a pilot project focussing on Lochaber.

HITRANS will be meeting the shortlisted bidders for the ScotRail and ScotRail Sleeper franchises in the coming months. This gives us an opportunity to reinforce our regional priorities for rail. We are also helping to fund a business case for increased expenditure on the East Coast Main Line.

In transport terms the coming year is a really important one with major events, key infrastructure project under development and new assets including ferries coming into service and continued evaluation of ferry trials and I hope HITRANS can play a really positive role in supporting all of this.

With best wishes for 2014,


Ranald Robertson
Partnership Director

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