Call for a Lanark travel summit

Lanark Railway Station.
Lanark Railway Station.

A call is being made for a rail and bus travel summit meeting to be held in Lanark to sort out its many public transport headaches.

It comes from the man put in charge of Lanark Community Council’s campaign to have direct train services to Edinburgh restored half a century after they were axed.

Community council member Ed Archer, charged with running the service restoration campaign, told the Gazette this week that he wanted a meeting at which all the various transport bodies were represented “to stop the endless round of buck-passing you encounter when trying to improve services”.

“If you ask, say ScotRail, to discuss a Lanark-Edinburgh service coming back , they tell you it’s a Network Rail matter, and then Network Rail tell you it is a Scottish Transport Agency or Strathclyde Partnership for Transport matter and so on and so on,” said the former South Lanarkshire councillor.

“The privatised rail system was practically created to allow this kind of constant buck-passing.

“What is really needed is a summit meeting in Lanark with all these bodies represented around the table and unable to pass the parcel on issues from one to another.”

He said that the restoration of the royal burgh link to Edinburgh apart, he would be raising other public transport issues at any such meeting.

He said that he would bring up the quality and age of the rolling stock on the existing Lanark-Glasgow service, claiming he’d heard repeated complaints from members of the public about ageing carriages’ toilets often being out of order. He would also ask for these services to be returned to the Glasgow low-level line, stating that last year’s change to services terminating at Glasgow Central’s high-level platforms was unpopular with travellers, as was the end of direct services to Hamilton.

He added that he would also like bus transport bosses at the meeting to address the lack of co-ordination of timetables to allow Lanark buses to connect with Edinburgh train services from Carstairs Junction and the lack of any direct Lanark-Edinburgh coach service.

Said Ed: “Lanark is in the impossible position of having far worse public transport facilities than it had half a century ago.

“In the 1960s, you could still get a direct train to Edinburgh from here and, when that went, you could still get a direct coach service to the capital, but that also disappeared.

“This comes against a background of more and more people from Lanark and surrounding villages working in Edinburgh.

“Many of our students, who cannot afford a car, go to college or university there too.

“They should be – must be – catered for.”

Hopes of restoring a direct rail link suffered a blow last week with the UK Government’s announcement of the funding that its Scottish counterpart will have for public transport improvements and maintenance over the next five years.

The SNP government in Holyrood claims that the £3.6bn allocation leaves it £600m short for its existing programme of improvements, let alone allowing it to add a restored Lanark-Edinburgh rail link to its plans.

However, Lanark rail campaigners have consistently claimed that such a restoration could be carried out relatively cheaply.