Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has called for special attention to the north in the process of improving rail services across Scotland.
Ms Roddick praised the Scottish Government’s plans to bring ScotRail into public ownership, saying this “gives us a huge opportunity to get it right”.
But she expressed disappointment at the ongoing service cuts in the Highlands as well as the lack of investment in infrastructure.
The MSP wants to see high speed trains introduced after the government and Scotrail described the current trains as “not suitable for intercity travel”.
She also joined the Friends of the Far North Line’s call that the Highland Main Line needs to be doubled as it is a vital intercity link between Inverness and the Central Belt.
Speaking to the Scottish Parliament, she said: “I find it bizarre that ScotRail is using the current number of passengers to justify the service cuts.
“We cannot use the number of passengers as a basis for decision at a time when people have been actively urged not to use the train. We should look to the future and take the opportunity of service changes to encourage more users.
“Making ScotRail publicly owned next year is an essential first step in building a 21st century public transport system. It is crucial that the communities of the Highlands are not forgotten in the construction of this system.
“The reality is that for many people across the Highlands and Islands it is impossible to go without a car, and this will continue until we can provide them with reliable and accessible rail services.”
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