Rail campaigners call for Scottish rail reopening investigation

Transform Scotland has today urged the Scottish Government to investigate the reopening of former rail routes across Scotland to reconnect communities with the rest of the country.

The recommendation comes in response to Transport Scotland’s consultation on their Rail Infrastructure Strategy, which sought views on how Scotland’s rail network can be improved in coming years.

Transform Scotland has called for all former rail routes to be safeguarded until comprehensive studies have been undertaken to assess the feasibility of railway reopenings. Doing so would help to ensure future opportunities exist to develop and expand Scotland’s existing rail network.Transform Scotland has also called for the Scottish Government to produce a table of population centres which are currently without access to rail services. Many communities across Scotland remain without access to rail services, despite a wide network of disused railways which were closed during the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. Reopening rail routes could open up huge economic and social benefits for areas across Scotland which are at present poorly connected to the rest of the country.

Paul Tetlaw, Rail Campaigner at Transform Scotland, said:

“It is essential that government takes a long-term strategic approach to the development of the railway network. The railway that we have today is largely a mixture of that developed by the early private railway companies and later dramatically reduced by the Beeching era closures.

“In many instances communities that suffered station closures have now grown substantially and new communities have grown up around existing railway lines. Expansion of the network is required to serve these communities which have grown out of all proportion in recent decades. Future planning needs to recognise the huge changes that have occurred since then and plan to create a railway fit for the 21st century.

“We suggest that all former rail routes should be protected until a survey has been undertaken to establish the condition and opportunity for re-use. These are national assets and should be viewed as such.

“At the same time a table of population centres not currently served by rail should be compiled. This would help to create a strategic approach to how and where the rail network will need to be enhanced and enlarged for both passenger and freight needs.”

“One of the many lessons to be learned from the new Borders Railway is that communities value new rail links to our cities and the benefits flow both ways. There are a number of other examples of communities which would benefit from such links, where the social benefits should form a key part of the business case. Levenmouth in Fife stands out as a very prominent example.

“It cannot be right that it is left to local campaigners to lobby for new rail services or routes – a strategic approach which combines local, regional and national needs should be adopted.”

Outline costs revealed for Beattock, Thornhill and Eastriggs

The outline costs and challenges for the proposed railway stations at Beattock, Thornhill and Eastriggs have been revealed in papers to a board meeting of SWestrans. Beattock would cost around £14-15m, with new services required to serve the railway station.

Thornhill and Eastriggs are expected to cost £8-11m but a timetable recast affecting a number of services would be required to support a stop at this station unless changes are made to rail services on the route such as new trains, timetable padding removal or line speed increases.


Robroyston funding proposals approved

Glasgow City Council’s Executive Committee today (19 January) approved funding support of up to £10million for the early delivery of a new rail station in Millerston / Robroyston.

The new station, expected to open in late 2019, will also feature two associated Park & Ride car parks, drop-off facility and an access road as part of this £18.9million scheme, and will facilitate the acceleration of the building of almost 1600 homes. There is planning permission in principle for these homes.The £10million of forward funding from the council will be repaid upon the completion of the houses through a Section 75 legal agreement. It is estimated that the completion of the development will bring an extra £14.2million to the economy every year.

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “This is fantastic news for Glasgow, providing a new rail station for the people of Robroyston and Millerston and helping to bring almost 1600 much-needed new homes to this part of the city. We are delighted to provide this forward funding to allow the early delivery of this project, and look forward to working with our partners through to its completion.”

Other partners in this project include Transport Scotland, SPT (Strathclyde Partnership for Transport), Network Rail, Elmford Ltd, Park Lane and Stewart Milne Homes.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “I welcome confirmation of this funding commitment for the proposed new station at Robroyston and Millerston from Glasgow City Council and their partners. In September we set out our own contribution of over £7 million to the scheme and with today’s announcement we can now look forward to the scheme moving towards the delivery phase, providing a welcome boost for the people of Robroyston and the wider development plans for the area.”

SPT Chairman Jonathan Findlay said: “The delivery of a new station and park and ride at Robroyston is a vital factor in ensuring the long-term success of the redevelopment of the area as a whole. SPT has played a key role in ensuring this project has progressed and we will continue to ensure it remains on track as it moves towards delivery.”

Funding will come from Glasgow City Council (up to £10million); Transport Scotland’s New Station Fund (£7.13million); SPT (£1.25million); and the developers (£485,000).

The developers have indicated that the early delivery of the rail station would accelerate the submission of detailed planning applications for the new homes.

The rail station will be located on the Glasgow – Cumbernauld line. The development of over 400 homes on the northern side of the line in Millerston/Robroyston has already begun.