MP Russell Brown launched the consultation in a bid to ascertain public opinion on the impending move for Stena to Cairnryan, and the MP says he has been snowed with responses following a final flurry of activity before the closing date of last Friday.
The consultation follows an announcement by Stena Line that they intend to bus ferry passengers to connect with the train at Ayr once they move to Cairnryan, ending the historic rail link with Stranraer station. While this is a blow to the area, there is an opportunity to improve the train service for local people. Up until now the rail service from Stranraer has had to balance the needs of ferry passengers and local people, but now it can focus solely on the needs of the residents of Stranraer and the surrounding area.
Passenger numbers on the line remain low and questions will persist about the viability of the service until they increase. Local MP Russell Brown’s survey aims to find out what people want from their rail service, and the MP was particularly keen to hear from people who currently don’t use the service.
The MP said: “This consultation has been a huge success and really got people talking in Stranraer. I’ve been inundated with emails and response forms as well as being stopped on the street several times. People are worried about the future of the line, and often quite angry about the times of the trains and the cost, but the one thing everyone is sure of is how important it is that the line is saved.
“I asked what people use the line for, and the answer really is a great mix. People use it for work, visiting relatives, going shopping or making trips to the hospital. It’s clear to me that the daily lives of hundreds of people would be devastated without the trains from Stranraer.
“The top issue for people clearly is the cost and particularly how expensive it is to travel from Stranraer compared to Barrhill or Girvan. We need more people to use the line, but that isn’t going to happen until it meets their needs and that means trying to make tickets cheaper and putting trains on at times that suit them.
“I am particularly pleased about the number of people contacting me who are not regular rail users, because they are telling me what puts them off getting on the train. I’m now in the process of going through each of the responses and bringing them together into a final report. I’ll present my findings to the Government and Scotrail and I’ll use it as the basis of my call for better services and cheaper tickets from Stranraer.”