A REVOLUTIONARY proposal that could provide significant regeneration benefits to Wigtownshire and Ayrshire is gathering political support.
Originally put forward as an option by SAYLSA (the local Community Rail Partnership for the Stranraer to Ayr line) as the route comes to terms with the loss of over 60,000 passengers following the closure of Stranraer as a ferry port after 150 years, the plan would see a high quality regular rail service between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stranraer at four hourly intervals linked into the ferry service to Belfast and onward rail links to Dublin.
At a meeting held in Ayr on Friday 2 December, key stakeholders including local MPs, MSPs, councillors and officers from East and South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, the RMT Union, Network Rail, Ailsa Horizons and SAYLSA heard details about the project.
It is intended that the Landbridge 2014 consortium will be extended to include other stakeholders along the route between Mid Lothian and Wigtownshire and as well as key industry partners Network Rail, ScotRail and Transport Scotland.
South Ayrshire Council have offered secretarial support and SAYLSA continued technical input.
Councillor John McDowall Labour Group Leader South Ayrshire Council convened the meeting following approaches from the Landbridge Working Group comprising South of Scotland Labour Party representatives, the RMT Union and SAYLSA.
The concept of the plan had its origins in the summer when SAYLSA convened a meeting in Stranraer explaining the options for the line. The choices were either a local branch line railway from Ayr or a move to take the railway forward by re-connecting with the ferry traffic but offering a higher quality product with enhanced journey opportunities.
Commenting on the development Stranraer Councillor Willie Scobie said, “It is important that Stranraer is at the heart of a sustainable link between Edinburgh and Dublin. This proposal would help regenerate Stranraer, Wigtownshire and neighbouring East and South Ayrshire by making south west Scotland much more accessible from Scotland’s capital”.
The concept is now being taken away by Network Rail and formal approaches made to Transport Scotland and ScotRail. It is hoped that a seminar into the project could take place in late January.