MSP criticises Virgin Trains for response to D&G commuter woe

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Joan McAlpine has said that rail users in Dumfriesshire will be ‘extremely disappointed’ about the continued unwillingness of Virgin Trains to stop any of their services at Dumfries to mitigate the chaos for local commuters caused by the extended closure of  Lamington Viaduct.


Ms McAlpine wrote to Virgin Trains when the extended viaduct closure was announced to ask them to stop trains in Dumfries, something they already do in Kilmarnock. 


In a reply sent to the MSP Virgin Trains stated that “putting an additional stop in the timetable would make it impossible to maintain the connection into onward services at Carlisle.”  Virgin Trains also claimed that the re-routing of West Coast Mainline services through Dumfries while the viaduct is closed has caused “no diminution in services to the key locations of Dumfries and Kilmarnock”.  However this contradicts direct evidence  from local commuters who have faced delays of up to an hour on local routes due to the extra trains using the line.


In a reply to Virgin Trains issued by Ms McAlpine she stated:  “My constituents will be extremely disappointed that Virgin Trains are unwilling to stop any of the additional trains that are currently passing through Dumfries on an hourly basis to mitigate for the loss of services at Lockerbie.”


She continued: “The existing service has been adversely affected as evidenced by reports from my constituents of delays of over an hour caused by the presence of additional trains on the line. 


“Furthermore, any additional disruption has to be considered alongside the fact that my constituents who ordinarily rely on the Lockerbie service appear to be the only customers for whom a replacement bus service has been deemed sufficient rather than real consideration being given to alternative rail solutions – namely, an increase in service from Dumfries.”


Ms McAlpine later added: “I fully appreciate the pressures of timetabling and the importance of cross border connections, but the needs of commuters from Dumfriesshire are important too.  I am not asking for every train to stop in Dumfries but a few carefully timed stops would go a long way to easing the difficulties faced by the cessation of all train services from Lockerbie.”