A resent blog post by Lesley Riddoch set me thinking about the A9.
The one thing that really makes the A9 a dangerous road is the almost total absence of enforcement the rules of the road. There are only two fixed speed cameras (between Perth and Inverness), police patrols are rare, and there are no average speed cameras. If the Scottish government is really serious about improving safety, average speed cameras along the entire length would be the first step. It is not the foreign tourist that are causing the vast majority crashes and near misses on the A9, it is vehicles with UK plates are being driving aggressively. Calls for the duelling of the A9 are not about safety, they are about allowing people to drive faster and cut journey times by as much as 12 minutes (if the drivers stay within the speed limits).
As for railways before the 1960’s there was an extensive network of railways across the highland. The lost of these railways was a major setback to the economic development of the highlands. This combined with a steady lost of bus services is driving ever increasing levels of car dependency in an economically fragile area. This coupled with an ageing population is just storing up greater problems for the future.
Since the start of the first hydro schemes, Scotland has prided its self on the generation of renewable electricity. Trains and trams can be very effectively run on electricity. The electric car on the other hand, despite having been around for over a century has never taken off, and probably never will do. Building big shiny new roads is not the best solution for the Highlands, putting back the railways would be far more sensible. Sadly, instead of the sensible option, we are seeing cuts in rail investment and a massive amount of funding for the duelling of the A9 being brought forward.