Improvements to A75 among of measures announced to improve transport connectivity in Scotland

Alister Jack, secretary for state

WORK ON road improvements and rail upgrades will boost business and improve connectivity across the UK, Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced yesterday (7 December) in his response to Lord Peter Hendy’s Union Connectivity Review.

The UK Government has committed funding to deliver targeted improvements to the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer, starting with providing £8 million to the Scottish Government to support their business case development.

The Government’s response also includes actions to protect vital domestic air routes, alongside ways to boost overall connectivity between Wales, Scotland and England.

These projects will explore options to improve transport links which strengthen connections between communities and across the UK, helping to drive tourism and grow the economy.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said:

“We are committed to delivering growth opportunities across the United Kingdom, including looking at ways to improve the A75.

“Today we are announcing more investment into projects that will boost connectivity and enhance transport connections across Scotland. These projects will identify schemes that can bring economic benefits to people across the UK.

“I’d like to thank the Scottish Government for working collaboratively with us on these projects and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them on improving UK transport connectivity.”

Improved connectivity across the UK will promote economic growth by increasing access to a wider pool of skills and opportunities. They will be supported by significant long-term work through other Government programmes including Network North.

Projects dedicated to enhancing connectivity across and with Scotland include:

  • Providing £8m to the Scottish Government to develop options to improve the A75 and committing funding to deliver targeted improvements, such as alleviating pinch points, following the Scottish Government’s identification of a preferred option – bypassing the villages of Springholm and Crocketford.
  • Committing funding for dualling the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham, helping to improve an important route between England and Scotland, as was previously announced in Network North.
  • Funding Network Rail to study options for enhancements to improve capacity and journey times on services between England and Scotland. 
  • Reforming domestic aviation policy by updating Public Service Obligation (PSO) policy to include routes that operate to and from different regions of the UK, rather than just into London as is currently the case. This means routes throughout the UK will be protected by the UK Government’s PSO policy to ensure minimum levels of air services that are socially and economically vital for the region.

“The UK Government is spreading opportunity and prosperity to all corners of our country and I’m pleased to see plans for delivering improved transport connectivity taking huge strides forwards.

“Hauliers, commuters, leisure travellers and communities will be delighted to see UK Government funding to kick-start work by Transport Scotland to identify improvements on the A75, the main artery linking Northern Ireland to the north of England through south-west Scotland.

“The UK Government is also committing funding to explore ways to boost rail connectivity between Scotland and England. And we’re investing in upgrades to the A1 and protecting vital air routes throughout the UK.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government on this ambitious package of proposals to link up the UK much more effectively – boosting our economy, creating jobs and levelling up opportunities around the country.”

The response to the Union Connectivity Review marks an important step in increasing UK connectivity and delivering the strong, reliable transport connections people depend on every day. The review was conducted by Lord Peter Hendy as he called for improved transport connectivity across the UK. The review was the first UK-wide multi-modal strategic transport assessment in a generation.

Lord Hendy has welcomed the Government’s response and said:

“I welcome the Government’s response to my review and the announcements in it. My recommendations outlined the next steps that the government should take to identify investments that will improve connectivity and support economic growth, job creation, house building, social cohesion and sustainability. The government’s response shows that they are taking the necessary actions to move this work forward and demonstrates their commitment to improving UK connectivity.

“I am also pleased to see that partnerships between the UK government, and each of the Scottish government, Welsh government, and Northern Ireland Executive have underpinned this work and I look forward to seeing them continue in the future.”

A spokesperson for Stena Line said:

“Stena Line wholeheartedly welcomes the news that the UK Government will provide Transport Scotland with funding to carry out a detailed Feasibility Study on options for realigning the A75 around Springholm and Crocketford as part of a wider review of current connectivity provision. Hopefully this will help to map out a clear way forward to improve this vital link between NI, South West Scotland and markets across the UK.”

A spokesperson for Dumfries and Galloway Council said,

“This is fantastic news.”

“We are delighted with this commitment to targeted improvement works along the A75 – a vital link for communities and commerce not only across Dumfries and Galloway but also the rest of the UK.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council has long campaigned to highlight the key role the A75 plays in the UK economy, uniquely providing connections across three countries, as highlighted within the Union Connectivity Review.

“This up-to-£8m investment for a detailed study on options for realigning the A75 around Springholm and Crocketford – which lie 10 and 12 miles west of Dumfries – is particularly welcome. Targeted improvements such as this can help cut travel times and CO2 emissions on the main trunk road through our region to the ferry terminals at Cairnryan.

“At Dumfries and Galloway Council we are committed to creating safer and better-connected communities and we look forward to working with our partners to ensure that our region gains maximum benefit from this investment.”

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