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Village group full steam ahead with station plans

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By Euan Maxwell
Village group full steam ahead with station plans
TRAIN TEAM . . . members of Beattock Station Action Group with cllr Stephen Thompson and MSP Colin Smyth

VILLAGERS in Beattock are pushing ahead with a campaign to reopen their local railway station.

The Beattock Station Action Group (BSAG) met last week ahead of the publication of the second part of Transport Scotland’s Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) into the feasibility of reintroducing train services to the village.

Due to be released next month, its outcome will determine how likely the project is to get the go-ahead and be carried forward by Network Rail.

BSAG chairman, Ron McLean, said if the upcoming report rules in the group’s favour then it would “give us extra power towards lobbying Transport Scotland and MSPs” before a final decision is issued early next year.

If approved, it’s estimated that restoration and construction work would begin in 2024, with an aim to re-open the station in 2029.

Thereafter, passengers boarding at Beattock would have direct rail links to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carlisle, London and Manchester.

Key components of the site’s £13 million revamp would see the platform, which has been closed for almost 50 years, entirely rebuilt and several nearby overhead wiring masts removed.

But group secretary Katherine Clemmens added that the “big deal” is the construction of a brand new bridge over the line.

“That’s actually why the station was shut,” she explained, “because of electrification – it wasn’t because of Beeching. The electrification, putting wires in in the early 70s, meant that the bridge had to be removed and that’s what closed the station.”

And she said that it “won’t necessarily be the old station” in Kirkpatrick-Juxta that trains would stop at — adding that the project could entail building a new terminal altogether.

“They’ve also looked at two other sites at Beattock briefly,” she said, “but if everything goes well, when it goes to Network Rail, that’s when they’ll look at the sites more in-depth.”

Although trains travelling along the West Coast Main Line have continued to pass through Beattock, they’ve not stopped in the village since the station was axed in 1972 — which resulted in 48-miles of track between Carstairs and Lockerbie being unserved by stops, believed to be the longest such stretch in the UK.

BSAG’s members view bringing trains back to Beattock as not just an opportunity to strengthen local transport links, but as a move which could reinvigorate the village’s economy and population.

“It’s to regenerate the area,” Mr McLean said, “to keep younger people and families in the villages and allow people to go into cities for further education, shopping, and to work in the cities but to come back and live in the countryside.

“It’s about integrating the existing transport system and making it more integrated, and Beattock fits into that perfectly by using its existence to build on what we have got already.”

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