Colin Smyth MSP
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has stepped up calls for more investment in rail links in the south of Scotland.
Speaking during a member’s debate in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday evening, Colin Smyth highlighted the many examples in his constituency where rail lines need serious investment.
He said: “If the government is serious about delivering inclusive economic growth and meeting our climate change targets, we need to see an equitable share of infrastructure investment across Scotland.
“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 for decades.
“This was exposed when the West Coast Main Line was closed due to storm damage and the Nith Valley line was used as a diversion.
“Trains which normally travel at more than 100mph crawled their way along the diversion. There is a real need to upgrade that line from a rural to a main line and this should include electrification, not just from Glasgow to Kilmarnock but along the full length.
“Sadly, in their plan, the Scottish Government has excluded the Girvan to Stranraer stretch from their proposals for electrification, despite the growing importance of the Cairnryan Ferry Port and our links to Northern Ireland.
“That stretch is one of the most antiquated in the country, still using traditional physical tokens for signals, suffering poor speeds and not able to carry heavy freight, it really is badly in need of investment.
“There has been a great deal of debate recently about investment in that part of the country, including a link between Wigtownshire and Northern Ireland, first it was a bridge, then a tunnel.
“I read at the weekend there might be four tunnels crossing over the Isle of Man. Maybe the next proposal will be a zip wire? If both governments have billions to spend improving infrastructure between Scotland and Northern Ireland, they could invest in improving the A75 and A77 and ideally reopening the Dumfries to Stranraer railway line.
“There is also a strong case for new stations across the south west, along the Nith Valley line, at Eastriggs for example and Thornhill.
“Meanwhile, in Ayrshire we’ve seen campaigns for the re-opening of the Cumnock and Mauchline stations which I fully support. There are other opportunities to improve, right across the south west but we need to see a real investment in that infrastructure.
“These improvements would make a real difference to the communities concerned, as well as to the economy and our environment. One improvement which would also make a difference is to bring these railways under public ownership.”