THERE was good news for rail travellers this week when the Scottish Government announced a specially reduced fare of £15 for a return ticket between Glasgow and Stranraer in August and September.
STRANRAER businesses are being urged to take advantage of a promotional £15.00 Glasgow return rail fare to boost visitors to the area.
The fare was announced following the Scottish Government Stranraer Waterfront Task Force meeting held at the North West Castle Hotel on Monday.
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson said: “I welcome any initiative that will increase both the number of visitors to Stranraer and the number of passengers using the rail service. This appears to be a novel initiative, and one that will hopefully bring about the desired result. I also welcome the reduced fare of £7.50 between Ayr and Stranraer, and the fact that this reduction will also benefit people travelling from Stranraer to Ayr and Glasgow.
“However, while this might provide a temporary boost to locals and visitors alike, what really needs to be done is to integrate the rail services between Stranraer and Glasgow with the ferry services into Cairnryan. Serious thought needs to be given to speeding up the service between Ayr and Glasgow as well. A fast service that is integrated with the ferries is the only way to ensure the sustainability of the line in the long term.”
Leader of the SNP Group and Depute Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Brian Collins, warmly welcomed the announcement by Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Alex Neil of a pilot cut in fares between Stranraer, Ayr and Glasgow of up to 65 per cent.
Councillor Collins commented: “I am absolutely delighted by this announcement. The SW of Scotland needs to be explored and can be explored more easily as a result of this announcement. Once again we see this Scottish Government working for all of Scotland.”
The Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce said that the fare is designed to boost the numbers of people using the railway in both directions.
The Chamber is keen, however, to see more people coming to the area by train, taking advantage of the promotional fare.
A Chamber of Commerce spokesman said: “This represents a great opportunity to promote footfall into the area and we would urge businesses to contact the Chamber to explore exactly how they can take advantage of this greatly reduced rail fare to boost their own trade.
“The Chamber plans to hold a meeting in the next week or so with businesses which show an interest.
“We applaud First ScotRail’s initiative in reducing fares by a massive 65% and will be working with them to see how we can best promote all that this area has to offer.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “While any reduction in train fares is welcome, the reality is that this is only for two months, after which they will go back to their sky high normal price. This reduction for a couple of months is a sticking plaster for the huge problems facing Stranraer’s rail line. The fares need to be cut permanently and we need a more regular, faster service.”
Stranraer and North Rhins councillor Marion McCutcheon said: “The two main reasons more people don’t get the train from Stranraer is the high price and the poor timetable. The temporary cut in fares only deals with part of the problem for a couple of months. The trains still won’t link up with the ferries or run at convenient times for many local people, so I am sceptical about whether there will be huge surge in demand. I am wary that if lots of people don’t start using the station, the Scottish Government may try and use this as a further reason to cast the future of Stranraer station in doubt. We all know that they plan a two tier railway from 2014 and nothing I have heard so far gives me any confidence that they will support our station or our town.”