Leader: Prospect of superior Japanese train fleet great news | Â£50m NHS waste
Laying aside the ongoing irritant of security queues and other delays, air passengers have a choice of four carriers between the Scottish and English capitals, and now those taking the train are in for big improvements.
The fleet of trains which have been plying the east coast main line for 25 years will be replaced with brand new Japanese-built rolling stock. These will have more seats and run more frequently – every half hour throughout the day.
But most significantly, the trains’ superior acceleration will slice around half an hour off journeys, with four hours door-to-door the norm rather than the preserve of those rising for the red-eye 5:40am from Edinburgh.
That time saving is likely to significantly narrow air’s traditional advantage, especially considering the increasing uncertainty over how long it will take you to get through the airport to your plane.
The trains will also be able to run as far as Aberdeen and Inverness, providing benefits to cities currently served by 40-year-old trains to and from London.
The boost for rail comes at no little cost to the taxpayer, with the new trains costing more than £1 billion, on top of route maintenance costs.
But everyone will benefit. Rail passengers should enjoy an even better service, while the keener competition with air is likely to see plane fares cut, experts predict.
The additional advantage is that all this could bring the next stage of cross-Border rail development that bit closer.
Encouraging more people to take the train would create the market that the case for high-speed rail depends on.
Bringing some form of HS2 to Scotland promises to reduce journeys even further, to three hours, but to make that happen, enough people need to want to use it.
That may still be some way off, but at least we are heading in the right direction – with all-round consumer benefits along the way.
£50m waste of medicine hard to swallow
The £50m wasted from NHS Scotland’s budget by patients not taking their medicines properly is a staggering figure.
It is also astounding that a fundamental part of the dispensing of drugs – properly informing people how to take them – is not happening in many cases.
When you consider that prescriptions account for 15 per cent of all health service funding, it is a very serious and expensive shortcoming indeed.
With health boards already under huge financial pressure, and an ageing population requiring ever more treatments, the need to find a way of cutting such waste is imperative. We must find a cure.