Has capital rail link plan finally hit the buffers?

Lanark Railway Station'Picture by Lindsay Addison
Lanark Railway Station'Picture by Lindsay Addison

The near-absence of any mention of restoring direct Lanark-Edinburgh rail links in a new public transport ‘blueprint’ for South Lanarkshire has led some to lose hope of the project ever becoming a reality.

However, at its meeting on Monday night, Lanark Community Council decided to give the plan one more push.

The members were considering South Lanarkshire Council’s latest updated Transport Plan and the Community Council’s Edinburgh link convener Ed Archer reported that the plan contained just one mention of the rail spur at Cleghorn it would take to restore the service to the capital lost half a century ago.

He said that “there seemed to be little willingness shown in the report even in the idea of marrying bus timetables to train times in relation to the Carstairs – Edinburgh link . This was most disappointing as it seemed an obvious thing to do as I know several people personally who would use such a link. A reliable bus service to Carstairs from Lanark would also help to bring down the number of cars brought to Carstairs Junction.”

South Lanarkshire Council member for the Lanark area, Councillor Catherine McClymont, said she felt she and her colleagues had been doing their best to co-ordinate services; a recent slight change to the Lanark-Biggar bus timetable had meant far quicker travel home for Biggar residents using the Glasgow-Lanark rail link.

The discussion at the community council turned back to the direct Edinburgh rail link issue, some members thinking that an important first step would be to draw up a business case or feasibility study to support the argument for restoration.

Some felt that the case could be bolstered by pointing out that many tourists would use a rail link to get them from Edinburgh to New Lanark but one member said that they’d already tried this argument only to be told that the public transport agencies were there to fund “travel for the public and not for tourists.” Some felt this was ignoring the worth of tourism to our local economy.

In the end, the community council decided to hold a special meeting of its transport sub-committee to discuss the way ahead.