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10 June 2009

Ayr-Stranraer rail regeneration study published

New report sets out tourism potential of Scotland's forgotten rail line

A new report published today (Wednesday 10th) sets out ways to regenerate the Ayr-Stranraer railway line, deliver economic benefits to Ayrshire and Galloway through increased leisure visitors and tourists, and provide better connectivity for the South-West of Scotland to the Central Belt.

The report, 'Ayr-Stranraer rail regeneration study', has been published by Transform Scotland, the national sustainable transport alliance [1] and was written by Deltix Transport Consulting. [2] The study was funded by Passenger Focus, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (‘SPT’) and the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (‘SWestrans’).

The report sets out a range of recommendations for the rail industry and local authorities. [3] The report is being launched at an event in Stranraer at Wednesday lunchtime, involving parties local and national interested in regenerating the railway line. [4]

Paul Tetlaw, Chair of Transform Scotland, said:

"Ayr-Stranraer is Scotland's forgotten rail line. It has great potential but is currently greatly under-valued and under-utilised. The railway has for too long been seen as only serving ferries when it should also be providing a service for local residents, for day-trip visitors and for tourists from overseas. The area requires better connectivity to Glasgow, and the Ayr-Stranraer line has the potential to provide journey times competitive with the car.

"The West Highland Line was recently voted 'top rail journey in the world', [5] but this was at least in part because of the marketing support it receives and the sterling efforts of local rail campaigners. Despite recent attempts in this direction, [6] there needs to be a concerted and long-term efforts to market the line.

"The rail industry also needs to get its act together and provide a railway timetable that can help in the regeneration of the line and, indeed, the whole of the South-West of Scotland."

The report's author, David Spaven of Deltix Transport Consulting, said:

"The Ayr-Stranraer line offers great tourism potential. It provides existing or potential access to a variety of visitor attractions in southern Ayrshire and western Galloway – including Glenluce Abbey, Culzean Castle, Logan Botanic Gardens, Mull of Galloway Lighthouse & Visitor Centre, the Southern Upland Way and the Carrick Way. Better access to these locations could be provided either directly, or by the provision of integrated rail-bus connections. There is a significant potential day-trip market from Glasgow and across the Central Belt which could be tapped into should a satisfactory timetable be put in place.

"The line also has potential for renewed rail freight use. Given growing concerns about climate change and oil depletion, there has been a revival of interest in prospects for new rail freight business between Ayr and Stranraer, including an Ireland-Galloway-Forth Estuary-Mainland Europe ‘rail landbridge’. There could be merit in the creation of a dedicated and bespoke rail freight partnership for the Stranraer line which can focus specifically on the key issues in the logistics market, as opposed to a wider partnership trying to address both freight and passenger markets."

See Notes to Editors, below, for the summary report's key recommendations.

The summary report (12pp) is available at: <> [PDF, 212 KB].

The main report (96pp) is available at:
<> [PDF, 5.3 MB].



Notes to Editors

[1] Transform Scotland is the national sustainable transport alliance, bringing together rail, bus and shipping operators, local authorities, national environment and conservation groups, businesses and local transport groups - see <> for details.

[2] See <> for information on Deltix Transport Consulting.

[3] The summary report's key recommendations are:

1. Transport Scotland, ScotRail and Network Rail should assess the operational, resourcing and market implications of a number of possible timetable changes geared to regenerating the Stranraer line, including:

* at least three fast through trains each way daily between Stranraer and Glasgow via Paisley, with Monday-Friday departures from Glasgow at 07.XX, 09.XX and 16.XX, and from Stranraer at 06.40, 09.40 and 16.40

* the scope for different Monday-Thursday / Friday, Saturday and Sunday timetables (as opposed to the current Monday-Saturday and Sunday split), reflecting different market patterns and the availability of extra rolling stock at weekends

* a departure pattern of standard minutes past the hour at Stranraer, with trains running at intervals to specifically suit the key markets available

* a summer Saturdays through service from Edinburgh to Ayr, Girvan and Stranraer

* summer Sunday service enhancement, with one extra round trip between Glasgow, Girvan and Stranraer

* filling in some of the major gaps in the timetable at Girvan, with a long-term aspiration to secure an hourly regular-interval service.

2. Research should be undertaken by ScotRail, SWestrans and SPT into the opportunities for integrated train-bus services providing access to key visitor attractions – including scheduled bus services on Mondays-Saturdays, and bespoke bus services on Sundays or to destinations which currently have no scheduled services, such as the Mull of Galloway Visitor Centre.

3. Passenger Focus and Transform Scotland – as independent ‘honest brokers’ – should facilitate the establishment of a cross-sector and cross-boundary rail regeneration partnership, incorporating a wide range of potential funders, facilitators and delivery agents for specific improvement measures.

4. Amongst a number of freight prospects for the line, the concept of a strategic rail ‘landbridge’ has potentially the greatest public funding implications. It is recommended that Transport Scotland should take the lead in bringing interested parties together to discuss possible ways forward, including the development of a bespoke freight partnership for the line.

[4] Contact us for details if you are interested in attending. The event will run from 12:00 to 13:00, and both Paul Tetlaw and David Spaven will be available for further comment if required.

[5] See <>.

[6] For example, the formation of the Stranraer to Ayr Line Support Association (SAYLSA) and Scotrail's recent publication of a 'windowgazer' guide for travellers.