Inverness ready for the road and rail revolution

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Frank Roach of HiTrans in the Strothers Lane parking lot that was purchased by Network Rail, with the TK Maxx building. Image: Gary Anthony.

A multi-million pound transportation center that will change the game and revolutionize downtown Inverness is a giant step towards construction.

The Courier can exclusively reveal that Network Rail has now finalized the purchase of several key sites to pave the way for development.

The Platform for Change project, promoted by HITRANS (Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership) and funded by various partners, will transform the city center.

Sites purchased in cash from Transport Scotland include the sorting office and Royal Mail car park, the TK Maxx and Sports Direct buildings, the Strothers Lane car park and Highland Rail House, on the north side of Station Square.

This means that one of the biggest developments in the history of the Highland capital can now begin. The project will significantly modernize the train station, the bus station and the entrance to the city.

A group of stakeholders, including HITRANS, Network Rail, Transport Scotland, Highland Council and organizations such as the Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) and the city chamber of commerce, will discuss the details of the plan for a demarcated area by Rose Street, Academy Street, Station Lane and the railroad area bounded by Millburn Road, Harbor Road and Longman Road.

Frank Roach, HITRANS Partnership Manager, said: “This investment from Transport Scotland will help realize long-standing aspirations to improve the facilities.

“In the future, there could be something much more majestic than the development of the 60s that we currently have.

“Like the general planning exercise for Waverley station, it is envisaged to create a steering group comprising Network Rail, Transport Scotland, HiTrans and Highland Council in order to ensure a balance of interests and to consider the formation of a working group and a consultation exercise with associated stakeholders.

“The training of the steering group will start after the end of the current crisis, but it is certainly on the cards.

“These things take time, but the Platform for Change project will have a huge effect on the regeneration of the downtown area, and the minds will focus on its delivery.” “

Due to the impact of Covid-19, Roach, who has worked on this project since 2014, said the city would be at the forefront of safe, modern travel that could no longer “force people” to share restricted spaces when queuing. for or on public transport.

He continued: “Whatever is planned, it will be spacious and will most likely include a commercial offering and bars and cafes.”

Emphasis will be placed on the movement of people on public transport and will include electric / non-diesel trains, electric and hydrogen buses, electric taxis with induction charging, pedestrians and bicycles, including transport facilities. electric bike, refueling of hydrogen vehicles, freight exchange, last mile of electric cart delivery and rail maintenance.

Roach added: “Personal parking should be limited.

“Instead of people using the city center eight hours a day in the future, we think things will be different in the city and that it will be used 24 hours a day.

“Who knows what city centers will look like after Covid-19?” But what we do know is that the transport interchanges can no longer push people into small areas at the same time. Even after the end of this pandemic, what we have learned is that in the future, people will need space to move around. “

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said: “The Inverness Transport Center is an exciting project that has the potential to have a transformative impact on travel around the city.

“We are looking to establish a steering group for the project, but this work is currently suspended while we are concentrating our efforts on the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We look forward to resuming work with key stakeholders, including the Highland Council and HiTrans, as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for Network Rail said, “We have acquired additional land around the station and are considering long-term options for its use.”

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