South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper, following raising a parliamentary question of the Transport Minister, has received a commitment that the frequency of trains on the Dumfries-Glasgow and Stranraer-Ayr lines will be increased following the implementation of the May 2022 ScotRail timetable.

In her question, Ms Harper raised the need for improved frequency of rail services to make them a more feasible public transport option for people living across Dumfries and Galloway. The South Scotland MSP also asked when the currently diesel lines will be decarbonised, to help reduce emissions in our national journey to tackle the climate emergency.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I am regularly contacted about both the current infrequency of services on the Dumfries-Glasgow and Stranraer-Ayr lines and about the long journey times on both rail services. I am therefore pleased to have received a commitment, from the Transport Minister, that both lines will have increased frequency as part of the new timetable.

“As well as improved journey frequency, the Scottish Government Scottish Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) is due to be published this Autumn. I have been lobbying for this review to include further transport infrastructure upgrades for Dumfries and Galloway, including upgrades to the A75, A76 and A77 and improvements to bus and rail infrastructure. I have also made the case for this review to have commitments to decarbonised rail lines across our region – such as through electrification or hydrogen – which would also quicken journeys on our important rail lines.

“I will continue to stand up for the need for improved transport infrastructure for our region and will keep all updated on my work.”

Ms Harper said;

“To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to improve journey times on the Dumfries-Glasgow and Stranraer-Ayr railway services, to help reduce emissions from the use of other modes of transport?

Minister for Transport – Graeme Dey responded saying;

“75% of all passenger services are currently undertaken by zero emission trains with the remainder to be decarbonised by 2035. This will potentially provide journey time savings through the use of more efficient, cleaner trains across South West Scotland, options to replace class 156 diesel which currently run on the Dumfries Galloway and Stranraer – Ayr routes are being considered. These options include self-powered fleets with battery or hydrogen fuel cells.

Ms Harper further questioned;
“There are only four trains per day on the single-track Stranraer line which takes two hours 20 minutes to get to Glasgow compared to just over two hours by car, and on the Dumfries line it takes one hour 59 minutes to get to Glasgow by train, but only one hour 30 minutes by car.

“Given the climate emergency and need to reduce journeys by car, can the Minister outline if there is potential to increase the frequency of trains on these lines and outline when these currently diesel lines will be decarbonised which will improve journey times?”

Graeme Dey, Minister for Transport, again responded;
“The proposed May 2022 timetable seeks to improve services in the South West of Scotland by increasing the number of services and capacity compared to the present day timetable. It’s proposed an additional six Ayr – Stranraer services compared to the current timetable and services from Glasgow to Dumfries and beyond will increase by five.

“Overall there will be an additional 1000 seats on a daily basis across the South West service group to help encourage modal shift. A study is also underway to examine potential line speed improvements and use of faster rolling stock which may become available as a consequence of changes elsewhere on the network, to be subject to the usual affordability constraints”.