South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy & Transport & Rural Affairs Colin Smyth has said that the failure of the recently published Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 to include plans to re-open stations at Beattock, Eastriggs and Thornhill was a ‘bitter blow’ for the communities involved.
The local MSP, who Chairs the Eastriggs Station Action Group campaigning for the re-opening of the station, raised the issue with Transport Secretary Michael Matheson in the Scottish Parliament last week.
Speaking in Parliament Colin Smyth said: “The cabinet secretary is aware that considerable sums and efforts have been expended to develop business cases for the reopening of railway stations in communities such as Beattock, Eastriggs and Thornhill.
“Those cases were submitted to Transport Scotland three years ago, but it refused to consider them.
“It said that the projects would be a matter for STPR2. It is therefore astonishing that new railway stations do not feature in the recommendations.
“The cabinet secretary seems to suggest that they were never going to feature in them. Why do they not feature in STPR2?
“Why were communities left in limbo for three years, waiting for STPR2, when no intention existed of those cases being taken forward as part of it?”
Speaking after the question session, Colin Smyth continued: “The failure to even mention the re-opening of rail stations such as Beattock, Eastriggs and Thornhill, never mind include a serious look at re-opening the Dumfries to Stranraer railway, in STPR2 shows the utter lack of interest from the Scottish Government in improving the region’s transport links.
“The result will simply mean our local economy continues to lag behind much of the rest of the Scotland.
“The lack of any detail on the re-opening of these stations is also a bitter blow to those who have spent time and effort campaigning and working to move forward with plans to re-open these stations.
“It is devastating and completely unacceptable.”
Concerns over the failure to include the stations in STPR2 were also discussed at the meeting of the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership SWESTRANs on Friday 28 January where members of the board agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary to express concerns over the failure to include the stations.