A blueprint for the future of rail services in Scotland includes the restoration of direct Lanark-Edinburgh trains after a break of over half a century.
The transport ‘think-tank’ Railfuture Scotland argues in its new masterplan that there is now an economic and environmental argument for opening or re-opening 90 stations and creating or re-creating more than 20 new lines throughout the country, restoring much of the pre-Beeching Cuts network.
It was around 50 years ago Lanark lost its direct link to the capital, a few years after its lost its Racecourse Station and its on services to Ayrshire.
The Gazette understands that there were once eight services a day to and from the capital.
Over the years many proposals to restore the service have come and gone; homes have been built on the old spur line connecting Lanark to the capital route via Carstairs Junction and the extra Lanark-Edinburgh trains would be joining a very busy West Coast line, already requiring one of the country’s most complex signalling systems.
A recent plan involved using the now redundant coal line at Ravenstruther, still connected to the Edinburgh line, as a new Lanark East Station.
Cash - or the lack of it - was always the main blocking point with repeated claims from the rail industry that the demand for such a restored service wouldn’t justify the costs.
However, in recent years arguments have been made that more and more people from the wide area served by Lanark Station now had jobs in Edinburgh,many of them associated with the city’s boom following the establishment of Holyrood.
Despite Railfuture’s support for what it now called ‘The Silvermuir Link’ between Lanark/Carstairs/Edinburgh, the issue of finance will remain.
Some veteran rail lobbyists are reflecting on the fact that the Lanark-Edinburgh link was originally closed in the 1960s because it was reputedly costing hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for British Railways to run it.
It is now estimated that laying new railtrack costs around £10m a mile. Lanark might not be the only local community to benefit from rail expansion plans. A strong case it also being put for the restoration of Beeching casualties in the rural Upperward such asAbington Station.There is also a strong lobby for the re-opening of Law Station in light of the new housing planned for the former hospital site.