South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth and Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson have urged First Transpennine Express to re-think their proposed timetable changes and to answer questions directly from rail passengers.
First Transpennine Express have issued a new timetable that will begin on the 14th December this year. While there are new stops at Lockerbie station at 6.20am and 12.32pm to Edinburgh the current 10.32am and 2.31pm services will no longer stop at Lockerbie. First Transpennine have said that delivery of improved rolling stock will allow for the services to possibly be re-introduced from May 2020.
Both Labour politicians have urged First Transpennine to re-think this proposed decision to end the 10.32 am and 2.31 pm service. They are urging Transpennine Express to continue the 2.31pm service on weekdays and the 10.32am service on a Saturday, until May 2020 when the have said they would consider reintroducing the services.
The South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWESTRANs) have asked officials at Transpennine to attend a public meeting after an increase in complaints about services from the Station.
Colin Smyth said, “This timetable change is another example of the utter contempt Transpennine Express have towards commuters and passengers from Lockerbie Train Station. Passengers using Lockerbie station already face some of the highest annual ticket fares in Scotland for what is an infrequent, often overcrowded service. Instead of fixing the four hour gap which currently exists for services between Lockerbie and Edinburgh, First Transpennine intend to create a second one and that is a disgrace.
First Transpennine’s reason for this is because it would lose its slot at Edinburgh Waverley. But frequent passengers will be aware that the service terminates at Edinburgh Waverley and typically waits for over half an hour before leaving again for Manchester Airport. A stop at Lockerbie would add very little time onto the journey between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh but once again passengers from Lockerbie are being treated as second class.
I urge First Transpennine to urgently re-think this timetable change and call on the UK Government to get a grip on this issue because they have the power to stop this ill-thought out change. If the UK Government doesn’t intervene, they will ultimately be responsible for the fact that families travelling to Edinburgh for the day on a Saturday will need to pick either the early 8.35am service or wait four hours until the 12.32pm but still have to get the train back at approximately 6pm. It’s not good enough to leave Lockerbie passengers in the lurch while waiting for better rolling stock to be introduced to the service.”
Adam Wilson, who is also a member of the SWESTRANs board said, “Passenger numbers at Lockerbie Train Station are on the increase as more people choose to commute and spend time in Edinburgh to take the in atmosphere and culture available in our capital city. While improved rolling stock in always welcome on the West Coast mainline it would make sense for First Transpennine to seriously consider our proposals of continuing the 2.31pm service on weekdays and the 10.32am service on a Saturday to meet the needs of passengers, until both services are resumed Monday to Saturday from May 2020.
Lockerbie Train Station is a vital asset for our entire region which is why I will be seeking the support of Dumfries and Galloway Council on this issue at Full Council later this month. I would also urge officials at Transpennine Express to respond positively to SWESTRANs request for them to attend a public meeting in Lockerbie to answer passengers directly on the quality, and now frequency of services.”