Have hopes to reopen railway line already hit the buffers over plans to infill bridge?

Hopes to reopen the Dumfries to Stranraer railway line could already have hit the buffers.

Wednesday, 28th April 2021, 1:13 pm
It is claimed the railway bridge at Lochanhead is in danger of collapse

The SNP in South Scotland has made it a manifesto pledge to explore options for reopening the line, and it was included in the 2020 South West Scotland Transport Study to better facilitate access to Cairnryan port.

Campaign groups, such as Railfuture Scotland and Re-open The Dumfries – Stranraer Railway, are also calling for the line’s re-opening, for freight, improved public transport and tourism potential.

However, it now transpires last year Historical Railways Estate (HRE) wrote to Dumfries and Galloway Council over plans to infill ‘Station Bridge’ which carries the minor road linking Lochanhead, on the A711, with Lochfoot on the Old Military Road.

The skewed single span stone arch bridge was constructed in 1860 and "is now in a deteriorating condition with the arch barrel having open joints throughout”.

HRE’s agent Jacobs added: “To prevent further deterioration of the bridge from occurring and remove the associated risk of structural collapse and harm to the public, it is proposed to infill the bridge to ensure the long- term stability of the bridge and road.

"Once the works are complete, the structure will be unrestricted for all traffic conforming to Authorised Weight Regulations.”

The council wrote back to confirm that the infilling works would be classed as a “repair” and as a result do not require planning permission.

Kippford man Christopher Rosindale hit out at the plans.

He said: “There is no mention of the impact which infilling this bridge would have on the route of the Dumfries – Stranraer railway.

"There is also no inclusion of a structural survey which would back-up the claim the bridge is in danger of collapse, nor does the council even ask to see one!

"Such infill may be difficult to remove without destroying the bridge, forcing its costly replacement if the route is ever re-used.

"Why on earth, with interest in re-opening the railway gaining momentum, are both Historical Railways Estate and the council being allowed to make it harder to achieve by placing a solid blockage at Lochanhead?”