South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on Transport Scotland, Network Rail and the privatised rail firms to stump up their share of funding to deliver a proposed £1.6m extra car park for Lockerbie Railway Station.
Land at Sydney Place near the station has been earmarked as the preferred location for a badly needed overflow car park, as part of the three phase plan to improve parking at the station which is now used by over 200,000 passengers a year. Phase Two would see the existing car park next to north bound track enhanced to create additional spaces at a cost of £505,000.
The proposals were given the backing of the South West of Scotland Transport Agency (SWESTRANs) in June who supported the Sydney Place option, rejecting one that would have involved land on the High Street/Bridge Street.
However, funding has yet to be identified for both phases. Colin Smyth believes that SWESTRANs should make a bid to Transport Scotland and Network Rail for funding and urge the rail companies such as Scotrail who own the station and Virgin Rail and Transpennine Express who run services through the station to pay their fair share.
Colin Smyth said, “It is bizarre that when there has been a discussion around car parking at Lockerbie railway station the assumption from some people has been that the hard pressed council tax payer should fund it, simply because the council provide some funding to SWESTRANS. However, that is only around £800,000 a year for capital and there is already huge demand on that fund such as for the purchase of new buses. Whilst the council will no doubt make some contribution, it is the privatised rail companies who will benefit most from increased usage of the station. This improves access to their station and to their trains boosting their profits, so they should stump up their fair share”.
“Transport Scotland and Network Rail also have funds for station improvements they have used across Scotland, so funding from them should also be used for Lockerbie station”.
“£1.6m sounds like a huge sum, but between the rail companies, Transport Scotland and Network Rail, with some support for the council, it should be possible to find the funding. Delivering these improvements will make a huge difference to Lockerbie station and help promote rail travel in the region, so I’ll be urging the industry to get behind the plan with some hard cash.”