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4/15/2015 - HITRANS Highlights - Spring Newsletter 2015


Welcome to our Spring edition of the newsletter, which highlights the outcomes of our Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) Board meeting at Elgin on Friday 10 April and keeps you - our partners - informed of our actions to promote delivery of the Regional Transport Strategy. The meeting is one of five public Board meetings we have scheduled for 2015. The newsletter complements information available on our web site: and underlines our commitment to increase awareness of our role and encourage the public to adopt sustainable travel options.

Ranald Robertson,                Councillor James Stockan,

Director                                    Chairman

HITRANS Business Plan 2015/16
The Board unanimously approved the Business Plan for 2015/16, which sets out how we intend to support delivery of our Regional Transport Strategy to improve transport services across the Highlands and Islands. We will now submit this to Scottish Ministers. We are committed at all levels to focus on a strong partnership approach to ensure resources are targeted in the most efficient manner to achieve the best results for delivering new transport initiatives.

Our budget for 2015/16 is £1,762,750 compared to £977,750 in the previous financial year.
We have received confirmation that the Scottish Government will continue to provide us with grant aid of £522,750 in 2015/16. Transport Scotland have also confirmed a grant allocation of £155,000 for the third year of the East Inverness Bus Improvement Corridor project and £150,000 for the second year of the HItravel project. SUSTRANS have granted £100,000 towards the Active Travel Partnership Project. . £635,000 is from the Community Links Fund that Sustrans administer on behalf of the Scottish Government and this will support the delivery of active travel projects at Inverness Campus in partnership with HIE. It is proposed that the five partner authorities - Argyll and Bute, Highland, Orkney, Moray and Western Isles - contribute £200,000 as core revenue funding.

HITRANS is also investigating a wide range of European funding opportunities, including SPARA 2020, a Northern Periphery Programme project to develop smart and sustainable solutions for rural and remote airports and air services and REPUTE, an Atlantic Area project focusing on renewable energy in public transport. HITRANS are looking to deliver travel behaviour change projects and passenger information displays powered by a renewable source.

Inverness station development - Platform 4 Change
Members were brought up to date with plans to redevelop Inverness railway station as part of a bigger project to regenerate the city centre. HITRANS are devising a masterplan to ensure that the station can play its part at the centre of the city centre and rise to the challenge of being a regional interchange with more trains and more passengers. The need for improvement is demonstrated by the fact that Inverness station currently handles 1.28 million passengers each year, representing a 57% growth since 2005.

A meeting of stakeholders was held on 24 February to discuss the major redevelopment, which highlighted the need for:-

• the pedestrianisation of Station Square;
• new ticket/staff offices;
• a new concourse area;
• revised gatelines;
• improved linkages to Falcon Square and Farraline Park;
• a new interchange on the west side of the station;
• a new road access to the signalling centre

We received very encouraging news from Abellio, the new operators of ScotRail services, when they met with local stakeholders in February. They announced they will commit more than £2.5 million to the upgrade of the railway station. We have also worked closely with them on their plans for improving the stock on Highland services and reducing journey times.

Proposed new railway station at Inverness Airport, Dalcross
We are actively involved in talks with Network Rail over fresh plans for a railway terminal at Inverness Airport, Dalcross, which will also serve proposed new housing developments to the east of the city. It is proposed the railway station be built on land owned by Network Rail and the associated car parking and road access built on land owned by Moray Estates.

We hope to present a planning application within the next few months. The first stage of discussions is a pre-application meeting, scheduled for 22 April and plans are being made to consult with the local community before the summer holidays.

AECOM have been appointed to carry out a transport assessment to support the planning process.

Points North
Partnership Manager, Frank Roach, advised Board members that HITRANS had organised a seminar in Dingwall on 2 March - attended by 55 stakeholders - to discuss ways of improving performance and reliability on the two North Highland Lines - between Inverness and Kyle and between Inverness and Thurso/Wick. The reopening of Conon Bridge station, he said, had exposed flaws in the timetable, which was amended in December 2014 to improve the reliability of journey times. A number of workstreams are under way to identify short, medium and long-term improvements. A similar event will be organised next years to review progress.

The team have been involved in the brand development for HItravel to link into the active travel and public transport officers’ roles. This logo brings together the many different modes of transport in the region, while still having a Highlands and Islands focus. We will be working with partners going forward to use the brand in HITRANS projects throughout the year and Transport Scotland are keen to engage with us on this.

HItravel Bus Investment Fund Project Implementation Progress

Since the project began, investment in the following areas has been committed:-
• 250 high quality information poles/displays/timetable cases have been purchased. Priority locations/routes have been identified at Kirkwall, Stornoway, Oban, Fort Wiklliam and the Service No 35 between Buckie and Portgordon;
• A new contract has been awarded for the supply of solar e-paper real time displays at 5 interchanges in Skye and Lochalsh;
• 4 additional solar chronos units have been installed at busy stops within the Cairngorm National Park area;
• Real time displays have been installed at Orkney (including the airport), Stornoway, Thurso and Elgin Bus Station;
• A real-time display and wifi hotspot has been installed in Somerled Square, Portree.

Active Travel Update

Fiona McInally, our Active Travel Officer, provided the Board with an update on the latest developments, including work with BEAR, Transport Scotland and SUSTRANS to improve the alignment of the Corran Ferry to Ballachulish cycle route, especially around Onich. Following a successful public open event and meeting, the community council and local residents are now in full support of the cycle route alongside the A82 trunk road, with several working with BEAR to provide land from their own properties to enable a 2.5km wide route to be provided. A very positive outcome.

Helping residents in Fort William to travel smarter HItravel Fort William is helping local residents to improve the environment of Fort William, Caol and Corpach, by reducing traffic congestion in addition to helping people be a bit more active.
JMP Consultants, who were successful in tendering for the Personal Travel Plan pilot and toolkit development funded by the REPUTE project, have employed two travel advisers to encourage the public to adopt more active travel options. The targeted approach is focusing on workplaces, primary and secondary schools, NHS Highland buildings, The Highland Council offices and the UHI Lochaber Campus as well as community groups and key events in the local area. Each individual is asked to complete a travel challenge to change their behaviour , which is followed up 2-3 weeks later to see if any change has been made.

Baseline data and cycle friendly pilots
Both Highland and Orkney have received funding from the 2014/15 budget for the order and installation of cycle friendly roads. These are for the AT Route 6 in Inverness (which starts in Slackbuie and follows Culduthel Road into the City Centre via Castle Street) and Scapa Road in Orkney. To assist with data gathering, HITRANS have purchased infrared cycle and pedestrian counters which can be moved from location to location to enable some baseline data to be compiled for specific routes in each local council area, determining any changes in walking and cycling levels.

Active Travel Maps
Both the Inverness and Fort William maps are being finalised at present, with aims to complete those in Nairn and Tain soon. Kirkwall and Stornoway are targeted next for map development.

Orkney Outer North Isles STAG Appraisal
We are working with Orkney Islands Council, Transport Scotland and HIE to commission a detailed STAG 2 appraisal of transport provision to the Outer North Isles of Orkney. This will help the Council to identify a preferred evidence-based investment plan to meet the short, medium and long term transportation needs of Orkney's Northern Isles. Consultation is at the heart of the STAG appraisal process, not least to generate buy-in from the public and wider stakeholder community. The first task will be to consult with island residents, businesses and stakeholders. The second task will involve the consideration of detailed operational matters pertaining to harbours, vessels, airfields, aircraft, fixed links, environmental impacts and costs.

Online ferry booking availability study
The Board have welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement to roll out the Road Equivalent Tariff across the remainder of the Clyde and Hebridean ferry services network. At the same time the Board have agreed to help fund an extension of the online ferry booking availability study for 2015 to cover additional routes and services on the CalMac network, such as Oban to Craignure; the return journeys on some the routes already covered and the inter-island routes between Barra and Eriskay and Leverburgh and Berneray. We see the data gathered by the online ferry availability study as an essential tool to highlight the severe concerns about the increasing lack of available capacity that many of the communities on these routes have already experienced. Our contribution is £7,550. Also involved are Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Argyll and Bute Council.

New Faces
Julie Cromarty, our new Public Transport Information Officer joined us for the Board meeting at Elgin. Thanks to a grant from the Scottish Government Bus Investment Fund, Julie has been appointed to help deliver the HItravel Project, co-ordinating information across the HITRANS area to improve the quantity and quality of public transport information available to the public. Julie has been busy since her appointment in late January in meeting public transport officers from our partner Councils to gather the relevant data.

Another new face at our Inverness office at 7 Ardross Terrace is Jayne Westbrook, who has been engaged as a Graduate Business Support Officer through the Adopt an Intern Programme on a six month placement.

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