South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has slammed the Scottish Government after a recent written question revealed there are no plans to re-open the railway between Dumfries and Stranraer.

The local MSP asked the Scottish Government “whether it supports the reopening of the railway between Dumfries and Stranraer”.

A response from Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “An option for reopening the rail line between Dumfries and Stranraer was assessed as part of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2). The outcome of this was that this option did not form part of the strategic transport investment recommendations within STPR2.

“Instead, recommendations set out in STPR2 for rail focus on the decarbonisation of the remainder of the network; measures to increase the amount of freight travelling by rail, including on the key routes in South West Scotland serving Stranraer and Dumfries; and on improving connectivity between our major cities.

“However, there remains a path for regional or local rail projects to come forward, and Transport Scotland will consider these subject to a strong business case being developed in accordance with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) and suitable funding being available.”

Responding, Colin Smyth said: “The response from the Transport Minister about the lack of plans to even explore the option of re-opening the Dumfries to Stranraer railway line is hugely disappointing.

“Not including even a feasibility study into re-opening the Dumfries to Stranraer railway in STPR2 is just another example of the utter lack of interest from the Scottish Government in improving the region’s transport links. It’s also hypocritical of the Greens, as they often argue they don’t support improvements to the A75 or A77 because they want to invest in railways but their Government refuses to investigate the re-opening of this line. Their claim it could be part of a regional project rather than a national strategic one is just embarrassing given these have to be funded mainly by a council, which is pie in sky for a new railway line, especially of this size.

“For far too long the south west has been neglected by the Scottish Government when it comes to transport links and the further failure to even explore re-opening this line will simply mean our local economy continues to lag behind much of the rest of the Scotland.”

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