Talks held on improved rail services at Stranraer

Talks have taken place over improving train services from Stranraer, as well as reducing fares.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 21st January 2022, 9:15 am
Finlay Carson wants to see rail services increased at Stranraer, not cut as they will be in the spring

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson met with Scottish Transport minister Graeme Dey to put forward a strong case to increase rail services from the local station in order to encourage greater use by the general public.

Following “positive” discussions, Mr Carson plans plans a further meeting once the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Policy Review 2 has been published in the spring.

He said: “I was pleased to meet with the minister face-to-face in order to urge him to consider increasing rail services from Stranraer instead of reducing them.

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“In May 2020 there were 19 daily departures from Maybole and Girvan to Ayr yet only eight daily departures from Stranraer.

“But under the new timetable being introduced in May the number of trains linking Stranraer and Ayr will be slashed to just five compared to 20 trains between Maybole, Girvan and Ayr.

"This seems counter-productive and unjustified given the moves to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead.”

Mr Carsion revealed that he stressed to the transport minister the need for the unique nature of the Stranraer line to be looked rather than as simply another station.

He added: “It should be remembered that the Stranraer service is a lifeline service similar to that of the islands with Caledonian MacBrayne where services are maintained.

“We have a similar situation given the importance of the ports at Cairnryan and the passenger numbers involved there.

“I pointed out there are plenty of opportunities to be had if we had a fit-for-purpose transport hub in Stranraer.

"If the Scottish Government is serious about reducing car journeys then public transport has to be improved at the very least.”

Mr Carson confirmed he raised also the question of fare prices that are significantly higher from Stranraer than elsewhere.

He said: “The cost per mile is much higher between Ayr and Stranraer at 49 pence compared to just 30 pence between Ayr and Girvan.

"It means Stranraer is 63 per cent more expensive and if the Girvan charging structure was applied it would mean a £4.70 reduction in ticket prices.

“The train operator will still have to maintain the cost of the track, signalling etc even if they reduced train services – and with a reduced income from ticket fares. So, all in all, it just doesn’t add up and would be a false economy.”

Mr Carson said he agreed with the transport minister that local authorities, the Scottish Government, bus and rail companies as well as other stakeholders need to pull together to plan the future of the public transport network across the region.

He continued: “I have now written to the local authority and South of Scotland Enterprise asking them about any progress on plans to improve public transport as we emerge from this pandemic.

"It is only right they play a significant role in promoting public transport in the area.”