The effective and efficient movement of goods and people is crucial for our personal and business lives and for the competitiveness of our local, regional and national economies. So much so that we too often take these things for granted and yet at other times are seduced into thinking of transport as an end in itself.
For Scotland, geography – actual or perceived remoteness – is an additional challenge which must be overcome. For our larger airports, continuing to secure direct international services and retaining services to hub airports is therefore of vital importance.
Scotland’s surface transport network has seen significant infrastructure investment with numerous motorway and trunk road schemes and railway projects. Further investment is continuing at national and local level. For movements beyond Scotland, however, we remain dependent on wider UK and EU infrastructure and regulation. The A1 motorway, East Coast Main Line, High Speed 2, Channel Tunnel and connections to deep sea container ports are all examples.
The Scottish Ministers have now used the passenger rail franchising powers devolved to them to procure the new ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises. These include a number of innovative requirements on service delivery, not least on passenger facing obligations. The new Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services will be the next Scottish Government public service obligation procurement.
Local authorities too continue to improve their transport networks. City Deal infrastructure funding packages, like that for Glasgow and the Clyde Valley, will create further means for them to do so.
Nonetheless, public sector funding is facing severe challenges. Private sector investment, whether as funder (for example, of rolling stock or roads projects) or operator remains key to this sector subject to appropriate risk allocation and balanced regulation. Our logistics operators have lead the way on market shift and our port operators continue to invest.
For passenger services, connectivity, timetabling and ticketing between different service providers and modes still present technical and commercial challenges.
Whilst improvements in mobile technology have created new tools for infrastructure managers and both passenger and freight service providers, customer expectations (particularly for information) continue to grow. New technologies, such as “driverless” cars create new practical and legal issues. The causes of accidents, especially fatalities, from more conventional movements continue to deserve scrutiny.
Emissions and other environmental impacts from transport and logistics operations are major contributors to our economy’s overall environmental impact. It is not surprising therefore that modal shift and emissions controls are topical issues. From hybrid ferries and short sea shipping to electric vehicle charging points, urban curfews and cycle initiatives, the repercussions range far and wide.
Our Transport team has advised on a comprehensive range of aviation, rail and light rail, roads, logistics, ports and harbours and maritime matters. We can advise you on a wide range of issues, including construction contracts, procurement issues, planning and environmental issues and compulsory purchase issues.
With such a fundamental and far reaching sector, it should come as no surprise that the associated legal contractual and regulatory complexities require specialist support. At MacRoberts, we understand your need for an expert team of legal advisers who can help you navigate these challenges and harness opportunities quickly and effectively and clients tell us they value our practical and straight-talking approach to helping them find the most appropriate and commercially-focused solutions.