Rail links in need of major investment

South Scotland list MSP Colin Smyth has stepped up calls for more investment in rail links in the south of Scotland.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 5:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th March 2021, 5:31 pm
Colin Smyth wants to see the line electrified beyond Kilmarnock

Speaking during a member’s debate in the Scottish Parliament he highlighted the many examples in the area where rail lines need serious investment.

Mr Smyth said: “If the government is serious about delivering inclusive economic growth and meeting our climate change targets, we need to see an equitable share of infrastructure investment across Scotland.

“The current line to the south west from Glasgow - which runs between Glasgow and Kilmarnock before branching off in two directions to Stranraer in the west and Carlisle in the east – has lacked investment for decades.

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“This was exposed when the West Coast Main Line was closed due to storm damage and the Nith Valley line was used as a diversion.

“Trains which normally travel at more than 100mph crawled their way along the diversion.

"There is a real need to upgrade that line from a rural to a main line and this should include electrification, not just from Glasgow to Kilmarnock but along the full length.

“Sadly, in their plan, the Scottish Government has excluded the Girvan to Stranraer stretch from their proposals for electrification, despite the growing importance of the Cairnryan Ferry Port and our links to Northern Ireland.

“That stretch is one of the most antiquated in the country, still using traditional physical tokens for signals, suffering poor speeds and not able to carry heavy freight, it really is badly in need of investment.

“There has been a great deal of debate recently about investment in that part of the country, including a link between Wigtownshire and Northern Ireland, first it was a bridge, then a tunnel.

“I read at the weekend there might be four tunnels crossing over the Isle of Man. Maybe the next proposal will be a zip wire?

"If b oth governments have billions to spend improving infrastructure between Scotland and Northern Ireland, they could invest in improving the A75 and A77 and ideally reopening the Dumfries to Stranraer railway line.”