Lanark was ‘big loser’ in rail shake-up

All change...for Lanark Railway Station
All change...for Lanark Railway Station
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IN the recent major shake-up of Scottish rail timetables, Lanark was “the big loser.”

A public transport boss admitted this to a sometimes heated public meeting in the Memorial Hall on Monday night, called by MSP Aileen Campbell, at which he and other rail chiefs faced a barrage of complaints about the effects of the changes in December which diverted Lanark trains from the Glasgow Low Level to High Level Line.

The alterations meant the loss of direct services to Hamilton and all stops beyond Glasgow Central.

There has been a storm of protest, including a petition campaign, since the changes, the anger added to by the lack of any proper public consultation prior to the re-timetabling.

A ScotRail representative said that consultation began in June last year with a Timetable Conference. The consultation was with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, and its role is to cascade the information to wider groups of stakeholders, including local authorities.

Passenger Focus, the independent body which represents passenger interests, was also engaged by ScotRail about the changes at the time.

Following the meeting, a ScotRail spokesman said: “It was an informative and constructive meeting, where we stressed that the strategy is to grow services.

“We also stressed early indications are that, since the timetable change, more people than ever before are using train services to and from Lanark, Carluke and Glasgow as well as Lanarkshire as a whole.

“We also advised the meeting that we continuously review timetables - and will report back to Transport Scotland on the impact of the changes in due course. We remain committed to improving rail services, connecting communities and opening up leisure opportunities.”

The representative added: “We are aware of comments about the current consultation process. Lessons have have learned and we are confident that these will be taken on board for future timetable changes.”

Even the MSP said that she had been unaware of the full implications of the changes until she began to get complaints from constituents.

Representatives of ScotRail, the government’s Transport Scotland agency Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and the new rail franchise holder Abellio heard a litany of complaints from a small but passionate audience.

When a ScotRail boss said the aim of the changes had been to “improve journey times from Clydesdale to Glasgow”, one irate traveller told him: “You’ve made them worse; the journeys are actually usually longer and there are less peak time trains from Lanark to Glasgow,” referring to four daily services which had been transferred to Carstairs Junction.

Another commuter attacked this change, stating: “Lanark Station must deal with a thousand passengers a day; you’d be lucky to see a thousand a month at Carstairs!”