There is a powerful economic and environmental case for the re-opening of Thornhill railway station, according to South Scotland MSPs Colin Smyth and Claudia Beamish.
The local Labour politicians are long standing supporters of the re-opening of stations at Thornhill and Eastriggs on the Nith Valley line. In June the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWESTRANs) agreed to fund Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) Part 2 assessments for the re-opening of Eastriggs and Thornhill stations, with a view to also carrying out a STAG2 appraisal for Beattock subject to securing additional funding. The move followed positive STAG1 reports which highlighted that there were strong arguments for the re-opening of the station and would pave the way for a full business case to be developed for the stations if the STAG2 assessment was positive.
Colin Smyth, who Chairs the Action Group set up to press for he re-opening of Eastriggs Station met recently with campaigners pressing the case of the re-opening of Thornhill. He said, “Recently Scotrail announced new rail services on the Nith Valley line but these were between Dumfries and Carlisle. The mid and upper Nithsdale part of the line was pretty much forgotten. Re-opening Thornhill Station would make the route north of Dumfries more attractive for people commuting into Dumfries for employment and education and also provide a gateway to mid Nithsdale, which could help boost tourism in the area”.
“Mid and Upper Nithsdale has major economic challenges partly due to poor infrastructure such as the appalling state of the A76, so improving rail travel in the area could help boost the local economy”.
“Funding remains the biggest challenge to the re-opening of the station. It is obviously a bit early to expect Government funding because we are still going through the strategic assessment which is part of the process needed before you apply to the Government’s station fund.”
“But I am confident that when we move to the next stage, which is the development of a proper business plan, it will meet the criteria for the station fund and we could see a bid to the Government to part fund the station. Unfortunately, re-opening stations don’t come cheap and run into millions of pounds but it was clear from my visit to the site of the old station that the costs could be kept down by using an innovative one platform design which could serve. both North and southbound trains, and his makes the case even more economically viable.”
The re-opening of the nith valley stations are also backed by Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Claudia Beamish who said, “There are many advantages to re-opening Thornhill station for communities in the South West and I am pleased the proposal is progressing to the next stage in the STAG process. As Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for the Environment and Climate Change, I am continually pursuing ways to encourage people to leave their cars behind if they can and use public transport. I am also mindful that there are people who do not have a car and also families which live remotely, who might only need one car if the station was re-opened. To make public transport a realistic alternative for people, we must make it accessible. Dumfries to Sanqhuar is the longest stretch on the Nith Valley rail line with no stops in between, so there is a powerful case for the re-opening of Thornhill from an economic and environmental point of view and that’s why Labour are fully supportive of re-opening the station.”