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Travel fight to stay on right track

  • Date: Monday 7th December 2020
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Back in January, Scotrail had introduced another price hike across many of its routes, whilst commuters were up in arms over the poor service, lack of carriages and infrequency of the trains.

I agreed with all of the complaints at the time and, if you have ever had the pleasure of an early morning commute from Glasgow to the capital for business, a reduction in the service would be unthinkable.

However, with much of the population having to work from their own home, we have arrived at a very strange, but much needed decision from the train operator.

With the pandemic creating a mass lockdown and all but essential travel being encouraged, Scotrail has seen a decline of up to 85 per cent of passengers on some routes compared to last year.

With this fall in demand, Scotrail has axed almost 20 per cent of its services, including reducing one of its busiest – Glasgow to Edinburgh – from every 15 minutes to every half hour.

It’s not just railway operators who have had it tough. FirstBus has seen a large drop in users, with a 42 per cent reduction over the past few weeks, whilst the Glasgow Subway announced that the £4m funding package it received from the Scottish Government in October was not enough to prevent cuts to its services.

With the realisation that our familiar commute to the office will be unlikely to take place until well into 2021 - is it the end of the road, or track, for public transport?

Hardly, but it does throw up questions on the changing nature of travel in Scotland and what companies are able to take advantage.

One travel sector I’ve taken a keen interest in lately is the two wheeled variety. Scotland seems to have a number of fantastic businesses that are pedalling through this year’s difficulties and ensuring that they are at the forefront of a new found boom that has emerged through lockdown.

Recent figures from Glasgow City Council showed that bike users traveling into the centre of town has soared by more than 80 per cent - and it’s not just in Glasgow.

According to the UK Secretary for Transport, cycling across the UK increased by as much as 200 per cent during the first lockdown, with cycling levels across the country soaring.

We’re not blessed with the best of weather for cycling, however the figures speak for themselves. There is a definite opportunity for those in the sector to take advantage and Scottish businesses are leading the charge. Especially on the e-market side.

One such Scottish company that has really caught my eye recently is FreeFlow Technologies, which claims to be the developer of the world’s lightest power to weight e-Bike motor.

It’s a big claim, however it has just raised £1.85 million to support a move to new headquarters and a research and development facility in East Kilbride, whilst further strengthening its team. Not bad for a company founded in 2012 as a family cycling business.

With the electric bike market worth £4.9bn in 2018 and expected to grow to £11.8bn in 2023, FreeFlow Technologies is set up perfectly to tap into this market and ensure that Scotland is at the forefront of the e-cycling boom.

It’s not just the west of Scotland who are doing well in the market, Edinburgh-based Electric Cycle Company hit the headlines during the summer having experienced an 80 per cent rise in e-bike sales, along with a 200 per cent rise in service sales.

Now trying to raise £70,000 in crowdfunding to renovate its new premises into a state-of-the-art store and workshop, making it the biggest e-bike shop in the UK, the future looks bright for this innovative company.

With rail fares in England due to rise by 1.6 per cent in January and applying to most regulated fares in Scotland too, I’m sure cycling, especially the electric variety, will see even further demand.

I doubt many will hit the road to travel between Glasgow and Edinburgh each day by bike, but whilst lockdown travel rules continue and the nation enjoys being on two wheels, Scotland will lead the way in electric pedal power.

Side (279 words)


News of a £500 bonus for all NHS workers in Scotland, thanking them for their hard work during the pandemic, was very welcome. The scheme will see over 300,000 workers benefit, including those who worked on temporary contracts and have since left the NHS, including student nurses. 


As the First Minister announced the bonus, she mentioned the Clap for Carers and audible appreciation of NHS staff, which regularly took place at the beginning of the pandemic, but felt that it was not enough to fully show our appreciation. 


I completely agree and believe it’s more important than ever to show our healthcare workers how valued they are. They’re still working just as hard, but the outpouring of gratitude that came during the first wave of the pandemic seems to have notably dwindled. 


Of course there are many differences this time around, and it’s understandable that the public’s attention has shifted after nine long months of ever-changing restrictions and rules to adapt to, but I have a lot of sympathy for the healthcare workers who feel left behind and forgotten about. 


The move hasn’t been without its share of criticism. There has been a great deal of debate over the taxation of the bonus, and many have argued that other key workers should have been recognised in the scheme, such as teachers and shop workers.


While I agree everyone who has worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic deserves recognition and appreciation, I think it’s unfair to criticise the bonus scheme because of this. It’s a fantastic gesture, and I hope it gives NHS staff the boost they need to get them through the difficult winter that lies ahead for us all.



Laugh (130 words)


Janey Godley's hilarious voiceover clips have become a staple over the last nine months, often cropping up on social media to give us a smile when we need it most.


While Janey has racked up thousands of views on her Nicola Sturgeon voiceovers, this time she treated us to something a little more festive, taking on the US President and the First Lady.  


Melania Trump's festive decorations have become a talking point during her husband's term, and this year’s décor was unveiled with a dazzling video.


I'm not sure what the First Lady would make of the spoof version which has been given the Janey Godley treatment and sees Melania declare she got her decorations "oot the Primark", but it’s a must watch if you’re looking for something to cheer you up. 


Weep (132 words)

Finding out your job is at risk is never pleasant, but to receive this news so close to Christmas must be particularly difficult. 


Unfortunately, this is the situation many workers now find themselves in as the Arcadia Group has officially gone bust. 


The group includes many of the UK’s best known high street giants and runs over 400 stores across the UK.  


While no redundancies have been announced yet, many of the company’s 13,000 workers will be feeling anxious about the future of their positions. 


The retail sector was dealt a further blow when Debenhams announced it is also set to close, putting 12,000 jobs at risk. 


This is a difficult time for most, and worrying about job security can’t make things any easier. I really feel for everyone in this situation. 










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