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Trains, boats and planes options to bypass A83 landslides

Moira Kerr
Trains and boats and planes could be used to speed up travel in Argyll when
the A83 is closed by landslides.

Argyll and Bute Councillor Duncan Macintyre said that, as plans progress to

expand the local economy, alternative travel options must be identified to keep

the region moving.

With North Argyll in line for 1000 new jobs, with the planned expansion of hydro power

at Cruachan Power Station, he said it was crucial to improve access routes.

Councillor MacIntyre, Argyll and Bute Council's Policy Lead for Sustainable Economic

Growth and Strategic Transportation, said: "We need first class access to all facilities,

access is the key, it's got to be fundamental in all we do."

But he added: "The A83 is a nightmare. The A83 in Argyll is like our Forth Road Bridge but

the cost of putting is right is about £450million.

"I suggest that the real temporary solution is to make more trains available. We have got six

trains running from Oban to Glasgow from May, which is double what we had before.

"We should make more use of the trains and if there is a landslide on the A83, or problems on

the A82, we should be able to have more trains put on service that day, that would help relieve

the congestion."

Councillor MacIntyre pointed out that travellers who live south of Oban could catch the Glasgow

bound trains at more local stations.

He said it would also help to have a boat on standby in Oban, to shuttle people to Campbeltown

to assess the CalMac ferry service to Ardrossan if there was a major road closure.

Councillor MacIntyre is also pressing for a new air connection between Oban and Glasgow.

He said: "There is a study going on with HiTrans (the Highland transport group) which is looking at

improving the use of Oban airport and the development of Oban airport."

Recurring landslides around the Rest and Be Thankful have caused repeated road closures in recent

years, with long diversions for motorists. Road closures and road works have also blighted

the A82 at Loch Lomond

The Scottish Government has spent millions of pounds improving one area of the A83 and

creating a diversion route, but that proved useless during the latest landslides at Butterbridge,

beyond the diversion point.

Transport Minister Keith Brown has said the next phases of landslide mitigation work on the A83 will start

next month.

And studies are underway aimed at reducing the risk of landslides at Glen Kinglas, Cairndow and Loch Shira.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor, who has lobbied successive Scottish Government

Transport Ministers to recognise the strategic importance of the A83 to Argyll and its economy, said: "I welcome

the planned mitigation works being put in place as quickly as possible.

"It is important that action is taken along all areas of the A83 which might be susceptible to landslips."

Argyll SNP MSP Michael Russell said money was being spent to try and rectify the problems but added that

worsening weather conditions were taking their toll.

He said: "The amount of money being spent on the A83 is considerable and the total number of incidents

have declined dramatically because of all the work that has been done, we haven't had much on the old stretch,

but it's at Butterbridge now.

"A lot has to do with the direction of the wind and the amount of rainfall. I was over on the Rest and Be Thankful

on Sunday morning and it was the worst conditions I had ever seen on it."

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