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A9 dualling: New timetable published in full as Perth-Inverness upgrade given delayed 2035 finish date

The first stage between Tomatin and Moy will be finished in 2027, but the long-overdue project will take another TWELVE YEARS to complete.

A9 dualling
The government announced this year it could not meet the pledge to dual the A9 by 2025. Image: DC Thomson

The A9 road is now scheduled to be fully dualled between Perth and Inverness by 2035, more than a decade later than originally planned.

SNP transport chief Màiri McAllan outlined her new timetable today for a project which has been bogged down by long delays and missed deadlines.

The first of nine sections still to be upgraded, between Tomatin and Moy in the Highlands, is expected to be completed by 2027 at the very earliest.

But work on it is not expected to begin until next summer.

In Holyrood on Wednesday, Ms McAllan said the overall project – one of the most expensive put forward in Holyrood – is now expected to total £3 billion.

She admitted progress on upgrades has been slow, but insisted the lengthy road is Scotland’s “backbone”.

SNP transport secretary Mairi McAllan. Image: PA

How the sections will be completed

The government aims to ensure the remaining sections of the route are widened as part of a rolling programme of upgrades.

Ms McAllan confirmed that:

  • Construction between the Tay Crossing and Ballinluig is scheduled to begin in 2025, in the hope it can be finished by 2028.
  • Works from Pitlochry to Killiecrankie should start in the summer of 2026, before ideally being completed in 2030.
  • Upgrades between the Pass of Birnam and Tay Crossing should commence in the autumn of 2028, before being finished by the end of 2030.
  • Three northern sections of the project, comprising the Crubenmore to Kincraig and Dalraddy to Slochd stretches of the road, will be upgraded between 2028 and 2033.
  • The final programme of upgrades, from Killiecrankie to Crubenmore, will begin in August 2030 and the route is expected to be fully dualled in 2035.

That means it will take until seven years from now until even half of the road has been upgraded as promised by the SNP.

It’s anticipated 85% of the project will then be completed by 2033, before the remaining works then ideally finish two years later.

Map showing the A9 between Inverness and Perth.

Long years of promises

The Scottish Government first pledged to dual the long stretch of road shortly after taking power in 2007.

In the meantime, lives have continued to be lost on dangerous stretches of the route.

Earlier this year, the SNP ripped up the original timetable to finish all upgrades by 2025.

Last week, we told how party leaders knew since 2018 that the target to complete the project two years from now was “unachievable”.

The SNP’s political rivals and angry campaigners have long criticised the litany of failures surrounding the scheme.

Mid Scotland and Fife Tory MSP Murdo Fraser claimed it was “jaw-dropping” that the dualling project will take so long to complete.

He said: “Throughout that period, too many lives have needlessly been lost, and more will die as a result of the further delays we have heard about today.”

SNP MSP Fergus Ewing. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson.

Inverness and Nairn SNP Fergus Ewing has been a strong critic of his own party over missed targets.

He asked Ms McAllan: “Will she acknowledge that many, including myself, will continue to remain sceptical until they see even the diggers on the road?

The Highland MSP added: “There must be no more slippage, no more delays, and no more broken promises.”

Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw, who has been chairing an inquiry into A9 dualling, said: “The revised timetable is welcome, however, the glacial pace of the overall project will remain a frustration to the businesses and communities we’ve heard from.

“What the statement didn’t address was why it appears so little action was taken by successive transport ministers to avoid failures.”