SCOTLAND’S rail network needs more “ambition” according to a new report, which reveals a number of major journeys are "significantly" faster by car than taking the train.

The paper, published by think tank Reform Scotland, also highlighted it is quicker to travel by train from Dumfries to London than to get from Dumfries to Aberdeen by rail.

It says that Edinburgh to Inverness takes more than three and a half hours by train but only around three hours by car - despite the "endless arguments" around the full  dualling of the A9.

Another route is Glasgow to Dunfermline which takes over one hour and 30 minutes by train - with a change - but just under an hour by car.

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The report also highlights the journey from Dumfries to Aberdeen, which is a distance of around 200 miles. It takes over four hours and 30 minutes by train with a change, but under four hours for a car journey.

And while Dumfries to London involves a much longer distance of around 339 miles, the fastest train journey is only around four hours and eight minutes – meaning it’s quicker to reach London from Dumfries by rail than it is to get from Dumfries to Aberdeen.

The paper also shows that while travelling from London to Edinburgh can take as little as four hours by train, it can take almost as long to reach Inverness from the central belt, with a train journey of around three and half hours from Edinburgh to Inverness.

The longest train journey mapped is from Inverness to Stranraer, which the report says would take just over five hours by car but involves four changes and a journey time of more than seven hours when undertaken by train.

The National:

The report calls for the setting up of a Scottish Rail Infrastructure Commission, saying Scotland should be “more ambitious” for its future.

“We should at least consider which ambitious transformational projects are worth prioritising and what they could mean for the Scottish economy,” it said.

“Do we want to be in a situation where it could eventually take less time to reach London by rail from Edinburgh than it does to reach Inverness?

“Is there a case for a new electrified dual-track line to the Highlands? Or a direct link between Dumfries and Edinburgh?

“What about Glasgow Crossrail, Edinburgh and Glasgow airport rail links, a proper integrated transport system which could better connect the ferry links in Stranraer?

“A long-term rail commission could examine the cost-benefit of these and other projects as part of a report looking at links to city regions, local networks, and rural and scenic areas.”

It added: “Obviously, there are limits on expenditure - and rail infrastructure is no silver bullet.

“But an ambitious nation should be thinking harder about its future prosperity and security."

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Alison Payne, research director at Reform Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government deserves credit for having in place a rolling programme of investment in upgrading railway lines, which is expensive and takes a great deal of time and planning.

“However we have to ask whether these incremental changes are enough.

“We rarely think big enough, or long-term enough, yet on rail infrastructure we must.

“Scotland’s rail network has the potential to help address some of the medium- to long-term challenges facing the nation, such as achieving net zero, reducing depopulation and growing the economy.

"But that potential can only be realised through the sort of ambitious thinking of which we presently see far too little.”