A bid is to be made to open new railway stations across Dumfries and Galloway.
The local council is seeking funding to open new stations at Dunragit/Glenluce, Eastriggs, Thornhill and Beattock.
The ambitious move comes after the Scottish government announced a £30 million fund to be used to build new train stations throughout the country. The fund can also be used to refurbish existing stations and associated facilities.
At next Tuesday’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, Dumfries and Galloway Council will introduce plans to bid for the Scottish government funding. The council, in partnership with SWestrans (South West of Scotland Transport Partnership), is to bid with a view to refurbishing Stranraer station and to look to build new stations in Thornhill, Eastriggs, Dunragit/Glenluce and Beattock, in that order of priority.
For Stranraer, a maintenance programme will be in place from 2015. However, extra funding from the Scottish government could mean significant works in conjunction with Network Rail, the franchisee and other partners, which would further improve the comfort and attractiveness of the station for passengers. Relocation of the station with the introduction of a new transport interchange could also be an option.
A new station for the Dunragit/Glenluce area could provide benefits for both communities. Some residents from the Newton Stewart and the Machars area currently access the line at Barrhill station via the A714, and for visitors, providing a convenient access point for cycling and walking would be a positive step. As the line is single track, a new station would require only one platform, reducing the cost of development.
Councillor Colin Smyth, chairman of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, said: “Figures suggest that the number of people using the Scottish railway network is growing, so our region needs to have the facilities in place to cater for them.
“Improving our rail network means better links for business which could also help boost the regional economy. Some proposals are more realistic than others but I hope we will at least see some of the funding invested in stations in our region.”