South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has made the case for major investment in the Glasgow to Carlisle Nith Valley railway line in the Scottish Parliament.

During a debate on Scotland’s Railways in the Parliament, Colin Smyth argued for the re-opening of Eastriggs and Thornhill Railway Stations, investment in disabled access at Kirkconnel Railway station as well as the full electrification of the Nith Valley line to increase train speeds.

Speaking in the Parliamentary debate Colin Smyth said, “The current line to the south-west from Glasgow, which runs between Glasgow and Kilmarnock before branching off in two directions—to Stranraer in the west and Carlisle in the east—has lacked investment in the past. That was exposed when the west coast main line was closed due to storm damage and the Nith Valley line was used as the diversion. Trains that normally travel at more than 100mph on the west coast main line crawled their way along the diversion route. There is a real need to upgrade that line from a rural to a main line. That includes electrification not just from Glasgow to Kilmarnock, but along the full length of the line.”

“There are strong cases for new stations along the Nith valley line. Reopening Eastriggs station would give the growing number of people from that area who travel to Annan, Dumfries and Carlisle for work, education and healthcare a positive public transport alternative to the car. The 28 mile stretch between Dumfries and Sanquhar is the longest part of the line with no station, which highlights the need to reopen Thornhill station, which would improve links between mid-Nithsdale and Dumfries and beyond, as well as to the central belt”.

“There are also smaller improvements that can be made. It remains a scandal that there is no disabled access on the southbound platform 2 at Kirkconnel station.

Commenting after the debate Colin Smyth said, “Dumfries and Galloway is being left behind when it comes to investing in transport infrastructure by this SNP Scottish Government. There are currently no strategic improvements scheduled and it is unlikely any infrastructure improvements will even be agreed until the South West Scotland Transport Study has published its findings”.

“The electrification of the Nith Valley Line would cut journey times by allowing for faster rolling stock to be used along the lines. This would have huge advantages for people living in Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Annan and Gretna and surrounding villages who would be able to travel to work and further afield to Carlisle, Kilmarnock and Glasgow much quicker. Electrification also makes strategic sense as it would provide an alternative to the West Coast mainline which can be used during maintenance”.

Across Dumfries and Galloway more people want to travel by train for work, leisure or to make connections at Carlisle or in Glasgow. Both the Eastriggs and Thornhill Station Action Groups have demonstrated the community support and demand for new stations along the Nith Valley route to widen access to rail services to more people. Recently with more services being provided on the line between Dumfries and Carlisle it has been proven that when services are improved, passenger journeys will increase.”

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