South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth and local Councillor Archie Dryburgh joined chair of Springfield and Gretna Green Community Council Isabella Tranter and spoke with local walkers this week to discuss the state of an important heritage trail in Springfield.
The section of the Quintinshill Walk which leads from Bensmoor Road to the Quintinshill railway bridge is owned by a local land owner but is used extensively by Network Rail to gain access to the railway line. The increased traffic on the lane from Network Rail has caused huge potholes and during wet weather it becomes virtually impassable for walkers.
The local community council have been working to get Network Rail to repair the road but to no avail.
There is extra significance as 22 May marked the 106th anniversary of the Quintinshill Railway Disaster, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 220 people and left 246 injured in 1915. The crash involved a local train, as well as a troop train carrying 500 soldiers of the 1/7th Royal Scots Territorial Battalion and a sleeper from London. The disaster took place at the Quintinshill siding which the damaged road leads to.
Colin Smyth said: “This walk has a hugely important history and it is shocking it has got into the state it has, as a result of a significant increase in use by Network Rail.
“This week marks the anniversary of the horrendous loss of life as a result of the Quintinshill Railway Disaster and the community council has worked so hard to get heritage status and install information boards and signage but unless the road is repaired soon, no-one is going to be able to use it.
“The area is extremely popular with those walking their dogs and exercising but the size of the potholes means that the road is almost impassable.
“Having met with representatives of the community council, as well as chatted to walkers along the route when I visited, I saw for myself the dreadful state of the trail and heard how frustrated local people were.
“I have contacted Network Rail and I asked them to work with the community and repair this road as a matter of priority. Ultimately, it has been their increased use that led the road to fall into such a shocking state, so I hope they will do the right thing and bring it back up to a usable standard.”
Chair of the community council, Isabella Tranter said: “The local community is stuck in the middle between Network Rail and the land owner.
“The land owner himself hardly uses the road but Network Rail uses it all the time and we have contacted them repeatedly about carrying out repairs.
“The community council raised thousands of pounds to create a heritage trail, but the potholes mean local people and visitors can hardly even walk down it. It’s a very important route, with a very serious history and it is vital that it is fixed.”
The local Councillor for the area Archie Dryburgh, who is also Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Armed Forces Champion, added: “This is one of four walks which make up the Gretna and Springfield Heritage Trail and it is an important reason a lot of people visit the area. Also, as Covid continues, more and more people are walking and exploring their local area more, which is great.
“The military history of the Quintinshill walk is particularly important and the state of the road is vital so walkers can actually get down to the bridge.
“The community has been trying to get Network Rail to sort this out for the past couple of years but they’ve had no response.
“They are stuck in the middle between the land owner and Network Rail, and my understanding is that Network Rail has a contract with the farmer to maintain the road but obviously this hasn’t been happening.”