South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has welcomed plans to electrify the rail route between Glasgow and Carlisle, via Gretna, by 2035.
However, he has called on rail bosses to go further after it was revealed there are no plans to electrify the route between Girvan and Stranraer.
The proposals are contained within Transport Scotland’s ‘Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan’ published today (28th July) which aims to decarbonise Scotland’s passenger rail services by 2035. This would remove diesel passenger trains from Scottish services by that date.
The report states: “By 2035 we aim to have an electrified route between Glasgow via Gretna to Carlisle benefitting commuter flows from New Cumnock to Glasgow and Dumfries to Carlisle.
“Additionally, by electrifying the line we envisage an enhanced strategic capability for rail freight, and a valuable diversionary route for freight and passenger services during closure of the West Coast Main Line.
“We will use alternative traction as a transition in the South-West of Scotland until full electrification and also on the line from Ayr to Girvan. At this stage we are planning to run alternative traction permanently from Girvan to Stranraer.”
Colin Smyth said: “I have long campaigned for the full electrification of the Nith Valley line between Glasgow and Carlisle, via Gretna so I welcome the aim to deliver this by 2035 but I am very disappointed that there are no plans for the same between Girvan and Stranraer. Once again passengers in the south of Scotland are being offered a second class service.
“Electrifying Scotland’s passenger routes will help to decarbonise rail services, continue to reduce carbon emissions and crucially increase travel speeds on those tracks that benefit.
“The Scottish Government therefore should be going further and committing to more electrification, including the Girvan to Stranraer route. As it stands, these proposals are half hearted at best. There have always been concerns over the long-term commitment to services to Stranraer south of Girvan and this decision will simply raise these concerns again. If a track has full electrification, it shows a commitment to that route. There is a big debate about closer links between Scotland and Northern Ireland and pie in the sky proposals for a bridge between the two countries. Yet the Government can’t even commit to properly improving the rail and road links to the existing ferry terminals.
“Reducing emissions but also increasing access to rail is going to become more and more important as the years go by and we owe it to our children and grandchildren to fully commit to doing all we can.”