Dumfries and Galloway Council has proposed four new stations as part of its plan to bid for a pot of £30 million earmarked by the Scottish Government for the development of existing and new railway stations.
The Scottish Government has announced a £30 million fund which will be used to build new train stations throughout the country. The fund can also be used to refurbish existing train stations and associated facilities. At next Tuesday’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, the Council’s new administration will introduce plans to bid into the Scottish Government fund. The idea will be for our Council, in partnership with SWestrans (South West of Scotland Transport Partnership) to bid with a view to refurbishing the train station in Stranraer and to look to build new train stations in Thornhill, Eastriggs, Dunragit/Glenluce and Beattock in this order of priority. For Stranraer station, a maintenance program will be in place from 2015. However extra funding from the Scottish Government could mean significant works in conjunction with Network Rail, the franchisee and other partners, which would further improve the comfort and attractiveness of the station for passengers. Relocation of the station with the introduction of a new transport interchange could also be an option but would incur significantly greater costs. Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) studies have been completed for the proposed new stations at Thornhill and Eastriggs. The studies indicated that these new stations would bring major benefits to the wider community. However, Thornhill is a greater priority as the town is 12 miles from an existing station while Eastriggs is only 2 miles away from one. A new station for the Dunragit/Glenluce area could provide benefits for both communities. Some residents from the Newton Stewart and the Machars area currently access the line at Barrhill Station via the A714, and for visitors, providing a convenient access point for cycling and walking would be a positive step. As the line is single track, a new station would require only one platform, reducing the cost of development. There is an active campaign to reopen the existing station at Beattock. However, Beattock is situated on the West Coast Main Line south of Carstairs Junction, which is not currently served by any ScotRail services, which could make this project difficult to deliver. Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee said: “Figures suggest that the number of people using the Scottish railway network is growing, so our region needs to have the facilities in place to cater for them. Improving our rail network means better links for business which could also help boost the regional economy. Some proposals are more realistic than others but I hope we will at least see some of the funding invested in stations in our region.”