The decision to take forward the reopening of the Levenmouth rail link is very positive news. The reintroduction of a rail service will bring huge economic, educational, social and cultural opportunities to Levenmouth.
The announcement is testament to the determination and commitment of the Levenmouth Rail Campaign group. I have supported their campaign since I was elected in 2007 and am proud that Labour gave a commitment to reopening the line in our 2016 manifesto.
We recognised the strong case for the economic and social benefits it will bring to Levenmouth, and I am delighted that the Scottish Government is now convinced of the argument.
Ahead of the introduction of new timetables in parts of the rail network, including on the Fife-Edinburgh line, ScotRail is promoting upcoming increases in available seats for passengers through its introduction of more high-speed trains and class 385 electric trains.
However there are no planned improvements for passengers travelling on the Fife circle, where commuters continue to experience delays, overcrowding and cancellations. ScotRail is failing to address the frustrations of Fife passengers and continues to deliver a sub-standard service.
While increases in available seats might be good news for other passengers, I am really disappointed that there is no good news for Fife commuters. Fife is again forgotten about while passengers continue to travel on overcrowded trains and have to put up with cancellations. Fifers spend a significant portion of their income on rail transport and this service continues to be not good enough.
We need to see improvement on the Fife circle sooner rather than later and I will continue to push for the Fife service to either be brought up to standard or for travellers to have a fare cut in compensation for the ongoing poor service.
Official figures show that the cost of private rented housing has soared across Mid Scotland and Fife as working people across Scotland have been faced with the average mean monthly rent increasing substantially since 2010.
The figures from the Scottish Government shows that Forth Valley has seen the highest increases, up 10.6% for one bedroom properties, 19.5% for two bedrooms, 21.9% for three bedrooms and 33.9% for four bedrooms.
Properties in Fife have seen a 9.1% increase for one bedroom, 18.1% for two, 17.1% for three and 26.6% for four bedrooms. Perth and Kinross have seen 8.6%, 8.7%, 11.7% and 15.8% increases respectively.
It is clear that a radical change is needed to end Scotland housing crisis and that is exactly what the next Scottish Labour government will deliver.
Tomorrow I will use a speech in the Scottish Parliament to call for ScotRail to be stripped of its franchise agreement at the earliest opportunity and for it to be taken back into public ownership.
The poor performance of ScotRail in Fife is one of the biggest complaints that I hear about in my role as an MSP.
My inbox is regularly full of emails from frustrated commuters who are often faced with delays or cancellations to their trains.
As a regular user of the service to get to Parliament during the week, I know only too well the misery faced by commuters every day. Action needs to be taken.
Instead, we have the SNP Government doing a secret backroom deal with ScotRail that allows them to continually deliver late running services and not face any consequences. Giving ScotRail a licence to fail is not the answer. With ScotRail persistently to breach their contract, we must not be content to continually let them off the hook.
Over a hundred peak time Fife Circle services heading to Edinburgh in the morning, and coming from Edinburgh in the evening, were cancelled between April and September this year. Services that were not cancelled often fell below ScotRail’s punctuality target which is when a train arrives within 5 minutes of its schedule time.
This is not good enough. Fife deserves better and I will be putting your concerns directly to the Government tomorrow.
On average, 17 people in Scotland die each year as result of an ‘industrial incident’. It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying because of negligence or recklessness by their employers.
Far too many people in Scotland still do not return home to loved ones after going to work – this must change. That is why I have today lodged my proposal for a member’s bill on Culpable Homicide.
I would like to thank Scottish Hazards for their support and allowing me to launch my consultation at their conference in Glasgow this morning. I want to thank Thompsons Solicitors and Unite the Union for their continued support as well.
I especially want to thank Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael was killed at work in 2005 for joining me and telling her heart-breaking story.
Louise’s story shows the real human cost behind our failure to take the action needed. That is why I hope all political parties in the Scottish Parliament will join with myself and Louise to end the scandal of death and injury at work.
I’ve called for the Scottish Government to use the break clause in ScotRail’s franchise agreement and bring the railway back into public ownership.
Statistics released to me show that between April and September peak time services between Kirkcaldy, Cardenden and Edinburgh were cancelled 110 times. This figures only looked at services from Fife to Edinburgh in the morning, and return evening journeys, meaning the total figures for the Fife Circle could be much higher.
It is no wonder that passengers are frustrated. Bearing in mind that ScotRail calculate a train being ‘on time’ as one that arrives up to 5 minutes late, the 17:02 Edinburgh to Dundee service, calling at Kirkcaldy, was only ‘on time’ in 55% of cases in June, and 56% of times in August and September. The 17:41 Edinburgh-Inverness train, calling at Kirkcaldy, was only ‘on time’ 54% of the time in June.
We have known for some time that Fife commuters are having to deal with delayed, cancelled or over-crowded trains and spiralling high ticket prices. For far too long, Fife has had a second-class rail service that is far below the standard we should expect. Continue reading →
Last week I asked the new Transport Secretary to meet with myself and local MSPs to make the united case for the re-introduction of the Levenmouth Rail Project.
There is a clear cross-party consensus in Fife that the Levenmouth rail project should go ahead, and I hope that there is a similar consensus that it should be one of the Government’s next big infrastructure projects.
The Government reshuffle before summer has seen the transport portfolio promoted from a Junior Minister position to one that is now in the Cabinet. It has also combined transport with infrastructure and we need to use this opportunity to make our case to the new Cabinet Secretary.
With every passing year, the argument for the reintroduction of the Levenmouth rail link grows stronger. I hope my question is the beginning of a fruitful relationship with the new Cabinet Secretary.
If we can convince him of the clear benefits of the rail link then we will be one step closer to its introduction. Goodwill will only get us so far, it is time that we see concrete action by the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland.
Yesterday, the independent review into police conduct during the 1984/85 miners’ strike issued a call for evidence.
The long-awaited review will look into the protests against closure of pits across the UK by the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Government. During that time 500 Scottish miners were arrested – this was 30% of arrests from the year-long strike despite the country only having 10% of the UK’s mining workforce.
We need to ensure that we achieve the justice that miners and Scottish mining communities deserve. We need answers to the tactics used by police during that time, including as to why the proportion of arrests where 3 times higher than the proportion of workforce.
The call for evidence is open until the 30th of November and views can be submitted online at the link below.
We deserve to know the truth about what happened in Scotland during that period. I’d therefore urge anyone involved in the strikes to make themselves known to the review and submit their evidence.
Transport Scotland have announced that they will be introducing a pedestrian crossing on the A92 at Glenrothes. It will be near the site of where Logan Carrie was tragically knocked down and killed three years ago.
This is welcome news for Logan’s family, who have been campaigning for such action since the youngster’s death and for local campaigners who have been tirelessly campaigning for improvements to the A92 in Fife.
I, along with other MSPs, MPs and councillors, have been supporting their efforts and it is good to see this progress being announced.
Last week I was delighted to take part in Levenmouth Rail Campaign’s conference at the Fife Renewables Innovation Centre, along with their ‘Walk the Line’ event to mark support for reinstating the line.
I have been working with the campaign for Levenmouth Rail since I was first elected and the argument for its reintroduction is just as strong now as it was in 2007.
We have seen locally that a coalition has grown in support of the rail line, and the newly launch Community Charter is an opportunity to demonstrate this, alongside a strong cross-party consensus that this project should be taken forward.
Following Friday’s conference, I spoke to STV News and you can watch my interview below.
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