South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused ScotRail of 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 a 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 at 5.13am and one 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 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 has written to ScotRail’s new Chief Executive Alex Hynes and Scottish Government Transport Minister Humza Yousaf seeking an explanation for the failure to deliver promised new services.
Colin Smyth said:
“When Abellio took over the franchise they made a number of pledges when it came to new services on the Nith Valley line. These pledges were already pretty modest compared to the new trains and services promised in other parts of Scotland, so it’s disappointing that so far Scotrail have failed to live up to even these basic improvements”.
“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 a pretty profitable part of the route for the company. However, it is hugely frustrating that there are practically none of the promised new services north of Dumfries. An extra train at 5.13 am in the morning from Dumfries to Glasgow, when there is already one at 5.46 am will benefit few people. We still have a situation where anyone travelling to Dumfries in the morning from upper Nithsdale can’t get there before 9 am and there will still be three hour gaps in the service between Dumfries and Glasgow”.
“I appreciate that the service between Dumfries and Glasgow is seen as slow because of a lack of investment, on the line and in the modern trains, so many people choose to drive to Lockerbie to get a train to Glasgow. But if ScotRail improved services as promised then they might find more people use them. They need really need to up their game when it comes to serving commuters in the south west of Scotland”.