Labour Councillor Willie Scobie will raise a motion at the full council meeting in Dumfries today asking the council to save the rail link at Stranraer after Stena Line announced it would be busing passengers north after it moves from the town to Cairnryan later this year.
Councillor Scobie has accused the ferry company of turning its back on the town and putting the rail link in jeopardy.
Earlier this month Stena were distributing flyers to ferry passengers telling them that from the start of the new route passengers will be coached the 44 miles to Ayr, mainly because of the reluctance of “various bodies” to improve facilities at Girvan station, which is closer. They added they would continue to lobby these bodies for improvements to rail and road infrastructure.
The motion will ask the council to lobby Swestrans (South West of Scotland Transport Partnership) to carry out an impact assessment on what effect passengers being buses to and from Ayr would have on the region’s transport policy and to consider amending the rail timetables to meet with the ferry sailings through a bus shuttle service between Stranraer and Cairnryan. The councillor also calls for representation to Transport Scotland to put in place service provision between Stranraer and Glasgow to maintain the traditional ferry and rail links to Stranraer and Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Councillor Scobie said: “The primary issue here is that Stena is being allowed, and even encouraged, to break links with Stranraer and the rail line.
“It is my view that this will eventually lead to the closure of the rail line between Stranraer and Girvan and further threaten the Girvan to Ayr services thereby seeing the closure of the two railway stations of Stranraer and Girvan.
Councillor Scobie feels Stena are turning their back on the years of loyalty displayed by the people of Stranraer by busing ferry passengers to and from Ayr.
He added: “While the people of Stranraer accepted the inevitable moving of Stena out of Stranraer and the breaking of those historic links of the town of Stranraer as a ferry port, we were equally happy to retain the Stena operations within Lochryan. “We never expected Stena to contemplate such a change whereby it would transport passengers to and from Ayr rather than maintain the connections with Stranraer thereby ensuring that the rail links are maintained at Stranraer.
“Severing all links with Stranraer, as Stena would be doing, would be disloyal to the people of Stranraer and would be acting against the better interests of the people of the town.”
A spokesman for Stena Line said: “Whilst the solution isn’t Stena Line’s preferred option, it’s regrettably the only alternative at this time.
“It’s a longer distance by coach, however, the total journey time versus doubling back to Stranraer is less and there are frequent train connections and better passenger facilities at Ayr Station.”