COMPREHENSIVE proposals to expand Scotland’s rail network to help provide a train service that can cope with a nation moving away from carbon-emitting cars have been mapped out by an influential think tank.

Railfuture Scotland has developed a list that includes the creation of more than 90 new train stations, more than 20 new passenger and freight lines, and a major expansion of network electrification.

It includes calls for firm plans to create a Glasgow Airport Rail Link, which has been promised for years with different proposals approved and later scrapped.

Last month, the principle of a metro link for Glasgow Airport was agreed by council leaders in Glasgow and Renfrewshire.

The first phase of the proposed Glasgow Metro announced by the leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken, would link Paisley Gilmour Street train station and Glasgow Airport before extending further east.

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Aitken has said the leaders of both councils have agreed funding for the project, although it would need sanctioned by councillors in both authorities before work could begin.

The Herald:

The Railfuture Scotland maps are an update on past attempts to kickstart the debate on the “needs” of Scotland’s rail network to make them “fit for the requirements of the requirements of the 21st century”.

It comes in a week when UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched a Government fund to help restore historic railway lines closed in the 1960s after the Beeching report.

Boris Johnson promised a £500 million “Beeching reversal” fund during the 2019 General Election campaign. It followed a similar vow made in 2017 by the last Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling. The Department for Transport confirmed there would be a Barnett formula dividend from any scheme for Scotland – although it could not put an estimate on that.

But Postwatch Scotland secretary Jane Ann Liston questioned whether the money was anywhere near enough.

The Borders Railway, a Scottish Government project to restore the northernmost 30 miles of the Edinburgh-Carlisle line, cost £300m alone and the route reopened in 2015.

Jane Ann Liston, who is also Railfuture Scotland secretary, said of the rail map for the future: “It is making up for decades of underinvestment, with successive governments skimping and using the railways as a political football. That’s really why we are in the state we are.

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“This is what Scotland needs. This is not just plucked out of the air. There are cases behind all of them.”

It calls for the resurrection of the mothballed Crossrail Glasgow scheme – the long-proposed £200m development that would link rail networks to the north and south of the city and connect Glasgow’s Central and Queen Street stations.

The Herald:

Other major feeder and link lines suggested include the reopening of Edinburgh’s lost circle line.

That involves making use of the double-track Edinburgh Suburban & Southside Railway (ESSR) that loops around the city and is still used for diverted services and freight transport.

The South Sub, which arcs round the southside from near Murrayfield Stadium to Brunstane, lost its regular passenger trains more than 50 years ago. The group suggests the Edinburgh South Suburban would reconnect south Edinburgh stations, involve the opening of eight new stations and that using hybrid tram-trains would connect to the Edinburgh tram line west of Haymarket.

It is suggested tram-trains could run into the city centre on the line before switching to tracks on streets, which would avoid adding to congestion at Waverley.

New lines proposed include to St Andrews, Lossiemouth, Haddington, Penicuik and Kilmacolm.

And it says that electrification has to be expanded and should be carried out at a rate of 125 track miles a year.

It would help to cut journey times, improve reliability, and reduce operating costs on lines. Electric trains are seen as more environmentally friendly as they emit up to 35% less carbon than a diesel train.

It says lines from Aberdeen to Inverness, from Ayr to Girvan and the new Borders line should be added to the programme of electrification.

Railfuture’s new station list covers virtually every existing line.

It says the number one station opening priority based on usage and which lies on existing or proposed rail lines would be the reopening of the Glasgow Cross railway station.

Once a famous city-centre landmark with its striking arched windows and domed roof, it is estimated that it would have a minimum annual usage of 2.17 million people if reopened.

The Herald:

It was shut down in October 1964 although the former station building remained unused for many years afterwards.

There have been proposals for the station to be reopened as part of Crossrail Glasgow.

When the Argyle Line opened in 1979, the station was never reopened and was replaced by the new Argyle Street station.

Second on the priority list is a new Grangemouth station, with the pressure group estimating it would be used by 360,000 people a year.

A resurrection of a railway station in the Gorbals area of Glasgow would be expected to attract 308,250 a year and was also proposed in the Crossrail Glasgow scheme. The original station opened in 1877 and closed permamently in 1928.

The reopening of a rail link closed in the 1960s, also championed by Railfuture Scotland, is one of a series of options currently being taken forward to try and improve transport in southwest Scotland.

The Herald:

The Dumfries to Stranraer line plan is contained in a finalised South West Scotland Transport Study which outlines ways to give the region better connectivity.

The projects also involve restoring the rail line between Dumfries to Stranraer and Cairnryan to help the ferry terminals cope with increased competition from ports in England such as Liverpool.

That would enable ferry passengers to again travel by train, which ended nine years ago when Stena Line moved from Stranraer to join P&O at Cairnryan, seven miles down Loch Ryan.

The Dumfries line, closed 55 years ago, was featured in John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, with fugitive Richard Hannay checking a copy of The Scotsman on a train for news of the police hunt for him.

Transport Scotland had also said that “the potential merits of new stations and services to improve connections to Glasgow” on the existing line to Dumfries would also be explored.