South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Connectivity and Transport, Colin Smyth, has slammed ScotRail after it was revealed two-thirds of direct midweek trains from Ayrshire and from Dumfries and Galloway to Newcastle are being axed.
At present there are five direct rail services Monday to Friday between Dumfries and Newcastle but the new summer timetable proposes to cut these to just two direct services. Three of those services run from Kilmarnock through other stations in Ayrshire and Upper Nithsdale, but this will go down to just one from 20th May when the summer timetable begins.
That means many of the passengers traveling to Newcastle will have to change at Carlisle and face a wait in some cases of over an hour to get a connecting train from Carlisle to Newcastle.
In the opposite direction, there will only be one direct service from Newcastle to Dumfries and Kilmarnock during the week at 6.30 am - down from the current three.
There remain no direct services either way on a Sunday.
Colin Smyth has now written to the Chief Executive of Scotrail Alex Hynes seeking a reversal of the decision.
Colin Smyth said, “It is disappointing that once again our area is being forgotten about when it comes to rail services. When Abellio were competing for the Scotrail franchise they made all sorts of promises of better services for people in the south of Scotland but so far not only have they failed to deliver, they are now actually cutting trains.”.
“The service that runs on the Nith Valley line between Glasgow and Newcastle was the only direct link for Dumfries and Galloway and East Ayrshire with two major cities and at a time Scotrail are telling us they are investing in improvements to services in the central belt and the north of Scotland, they are axing those in the south west. Passengers trying to get to Newcastle will now often have to change at Carlisle where they will wait in some cases for over an hour for a connecting train from a different rail company, which is typical of the lack of joined up thinking between our privatised rail companies”.
“I have written to the Chief Executive of Scotrail asking when will the south of Scotland start to get parity of service with other parts of Scotland instead of seeing cuts all the time. My fear is this will be the tip of the iceberg and we will start to lose direct services from Glasgow to Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire next”