LOCAL politicians have reacted angrily to a “blatant snub” by the SNP Scottish Government as the Transport Minister Keith Brown has refused to even consider meeting to hear local people’s concerns about the future of the Stranraer railway line.
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown wrote to Transport Minister Keith Brown last month calling on him to come to Stranraer to meet with him along with local councillor Willie Scobie and South of Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish for urgent talks on rail services from the town. In particular they were looking to discuss proposals for an improved timetable currently being developed by the politicians, the RMT and The Stranraer to Ayr Line Support Association (SAYLSA).
The momentum for an overhaul of the Stranraer rail service has been growing since ferry operator Stena Line announced they are to use Ayr rather than Stranraer as their rail interchange for foot passengers. Once their new Cairnryan Terminal is operational they will bus foot passengers to Ayr train station, primarily because of the better onward connections at Ayr. However, Stena Line has indicated that they would give serious consideration to using Stranraer instead of Ayr as their rail interchange if services from the station are improved.
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “The Minister’s refusal to come to Stranraer to discuss the future of the rail line is a heavy blow and a blatant snub to Stranraer by the Scottish Government. Local people won’t forget this outrageous abdication of responsibility by the Government to protect rail services from Stranraer. Local people and businesses are really worried about what will happen to Stranraer’s rail line after Stena moves and starts putting passengers on buses to Ayr train station, but the SNP clearly aren’t bothered enough to even listen to their concerns. People are angry that our area was so badly let down by the SNP when they shelved the urgent upgrades of the A75 and A77 and clearly they are now similarly trying to wash their hands of the train station. Once again the SNP are ignoring Dumfries and Galloway while they are spending time and money on new transport infrastructure in the central belt.”
Local Stranraer and North Rhins Councillor Willie Scobie said: “Stena’s decision to bus passengers to Ayr rather than Stranraer station will have a major impact on the town. About 75,000 ferry passengers currently use the rail line every year, and the loss of numbers on this scale from using the station will be a huge blow. Stena have said they would give serious consideration to using Stranraer as their rail interchange providing services from the station are improved. That needs investment from the Government but the Minister’s snub to Stranraer is a clear sign that this isn’t going to happen. Our group of local politicians, SAYLSA and the RMT are developing positive proposals for an improved timetable from Stranraer but now we won’t even get the opportunity to put them to the Minister.”