Colin Smyth MSP
Rail passengers who use Lockerbie station will see the cost of fares rocket this week – but no trains are running from the station until 19 March
Rail fares set by the UK Government, including the Transpennine Express and Avanti franchises that run through Lockerbie on the West Coast Mainline, rose this week by 5.9% in March. The increase is above last year’s 4.8% hike.
However, no trains will run on the West Coast Main Line for the next 16 days as part of a major overhaul at Carstairs junction. Replacements buses that take 2 hours to connect Lockerbie to Glasgow and Edinburgh will run instead of trains during that period.
The closure of the rail route from 4 to 19 March is the first phase of a three-month programme of work.
Phase two of the work from 20 March to 21 April will see part of the junction reopening to allow some trains to run directly on weekdays to Edinburgh and via diversion routes to Glasgow but with longer journey times.
The final phase – from 22 April to 4 June – will see most services return to normal during weekdays with the junction fully closed each weekend.
Colin Smyth said, “This is the biggest hike in rail fares for 11 years at a time local people are being hammered by eye watering increases in energy bills and council tax.
“Long suffering passengers from Lockerbie will think this fare hike is a sick joke giving how utterly woeful services are.
“It comes on the back of the recent confirmation from the Scottish Government that passengers at Lockerbie won’t benefit from the plan to axe peak fares, which means prices will be higher from Lockerbie station than almost every other station in Scotland at peak times.
“We have seen passenger numbers plummet at Lockerbie station because the service is unreliable, and this increase will simply mean fewer people using the train.
“It’s ironic that the increase comes at a time there won’t be any trains for the next few weeks due to work on the track.
“While investment on the Carstairs junction is needed, and will mean an end to current slow speed limit, there doesn’t seem to be any plans to reduce travel times for services which is very disappointing.”
In response to questioning from Colin Smyth in Parliament, the Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth recently confirmed that plans by the Scottish Government to suspend peak fares for six months would only apply to ScotRail services, not those provided by Transpennine Express or Avanti Westcoast.