South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed new rail services between Dumfries and Carlisle announced today (27 October)- but criticised ScotRail for failing to deliver the full improvements to the Nith Valley rail line promised by new franchise owners Abellio when they were awarded the franchise in 2014.
According to the planned new timetable from December 2017, there will be 5 new services between Dumfries and Carlisle but only one extra train from Dumfries to Glasgow – and at 5.13am andone between Glasgow and Dumfries at 8.13 pm.
The local MSP is disappointed that there are no further planned extra services for passengers travelling north of Dumfries despite pledges of additional services, including a clear commitment to end a three-hour gap that exists between 8.53am and 11.53am when there are no services from Dumfries to Glasgow and a three-hour gap between 1.13pm and 4.13pm when there are no services from Glasgow to Dumfries. A promised ‘bike hire’ scheme at Dumfries station has also failed to materialise.
Colin Smyth said:
“The new services between Dumfries and Carlisle are welcome but given that over 500 people a day travel between Dumfries and Carlisle by rail, this is driven by growing demand and profit. The rest of the route has been completely ignored, despite clear promises given by Abellio when they got the franchise. There isn’t a single meaningful new service from Scotrail on the Nith Valley line north of Dumfries. One extra train at 5.13am in the morning from Dumfries to Glasgow, when there is already one at 5.46 am, is utterly meaningless. Communities in Mid and Upper Nithdale- where there is a desperate need to improve transport links- have been forgotten by ScotRail.
Anyone travelling to Dumfries in the morning from Kirkconnel or Sanqhuar for employment or education can’t get there before 9 am and there will still be three hour gaps in the service between Dumfries and Glasgow. Scotrail claim they are building the best railway the country has ever had, for all of Scotland. That must mean they don’t know mid and upper Nithsdale exists.”