LONG held plans for the re-opening of Eastriggs railway station have been dismissed by Transport Scotland – with the decision described as a “huge blow” for Annandale.
It comes after the government agency wrote to the South of West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWESTRANS) saying the economic cases simply “do not stack up” for opening of the station.
Similar railway proposals at Beattock and Thornhill were also rejected.
The Eastriggs Station Action Group has been tirelessly campaigning for their station to be re-opened and were disappointed earlier this year after it missed out entirely in the long-awaited Strategic Transport Projects Review 2, with the Scottish Government stating new railway stations were not strategic projects.
Instead, the Scottish Government claimed a separate process was available for new stations, but Transport Scotland has now responded to proposals from SWESTRANs and said there is not enough evidence to support the re-opening of Beattock station.
And South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, who is chairman of the Eastriggs Station Action Group, has accused the government of showing “utter contempt’ for the region.
Mr Smyth said: “The failure to even mention the re-opening of rail stations at Beattock, Eastriggs and Thornhill in STPR2 was shocking enough but the Government now say the economic case doesn’t stack up, but fail to provide any detailed reasons for their claim.
“The utter contempt from the SNP-Green Scottish Government in improving the region’s transport links is shocking.
“Of course, stations in rural areas will never have the passenger numbers of a big central belt city station, but that fails to understand the importance of using station re-openings to boost the economy in a region already being left behind by this Government.
“The Borders Railway proved that when you open stations, they surpass the expectations of Transport Scotland whose record on these issues is utterly woeful.
“The result of their inaction is that our local economy continues to lag behind much of the rest of the Scotland.
“It is devastating and completely unacceptable.”
Annandale South Councillor and secretary of the Eastriggs Railway Station Action Group Sean Marshall, above, said: “This decision is an absolute joke. Transport Scotland and the SNP/Green Scottish Government have betrayed us and taken us on a journey to nowhere over the last ten years.
“SWESTRANS, the council and local campaign groups have spent a lot of time, resources and money on not one, but two Strategic Transport Appraisal Guidances for each of the potential railway station re-openings at Eastriggs, Thornhill and Beattock.
“The Eastriggs consultations demonstrated overwhelming support for re-opening the station here, which would provide much better links for social, economic and educational opportunities for a population of nearly 2000 people.
“This is another example of the Scottish Government ignoring and discriminating against rural Scotland.
“On the Nith Valley Line, the 75-mile stretch from Carlisle to Kirkconnel has only four stops, yet the last 50 miles into the central belt to Glasgow has over ten stops – many of which in communities with a lower population than Eastriggs.
“It’s one rule for the cities and a different one for rural areas.”