The Scottish Government has been accused of creating a "financial black hole" in one of its own flagship infrastructure projects.

Council leaders in South Lanarkshire slammed the "utterly stupid" decision to remove grant funding from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport in the latest draft budget, leaving a £2m gap in funding for a park-and-ride scheme at the new Hairmyres train station.

SPT is a regional transport body covering twelve councils, and had been allocated £2.25m over the next three financial years for projects in South Lanarkshire.

Under the East Kilbride Enhancement (EKE) Scheme, a new station is to be opened at Hairmyres, 600m to the west of the current location.

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Work is planned to start this year on an 18-acre site and facility, and as part of the project, Network Rail, Transport Scotland, South Lanarkshire Council and SPT for Transport will fund and develop a major transport interchange with park-and-ride facilities.

The EKE has been touted by Holyrood as a central part of its plan to decarbonise passenger services and provide "quieter, greener and cleaner trains."

The Herald: An artist's impression of the new Hairmyres stationAn artist's impression of the new Hairmyres station (Image: Network Rail)

The £139m project will see electrification of the route between East Kilbride and Glasgow, a new station at Hairmyres, a 1.4km extension of the existing loop at Hairmyres, a new accessible station footbridge with lifts at Giffnock Station and platform extensions, a new footbridge and additional station entrance at Clarkston station, a new footbridge at Busby Station and the introduction of greener and cleaner electric trains from December 2025.

However, in its draft budget the Scottish Government has announced its intention to remove all general capital support to SPT, worth around £15m.

In a leaked letter to SPT members, head James Dornan said: "The long and short of this is that despite statements of commitment to public transport, no resources are being made available to SPT to support public transport infrastructure across the whole of the region.

“This is simply an unacceptable position."

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The grant money which has been cut includes £1.8m in future funding allocated to the Hairmyres park-and-ride scheme, which comes after previous plans to duel the line were suddenly abandoned in 2021.

In a letter to MSPs, South Lanarkshire Council leader Joe Fagan said the government had created a "financial black hole" in the project as he urged them to reverse the decision.

Mr Fagan told The Herald: "Removing general capital support for SPT, with no prior notice, jeopardises vital transport projects across the west of Scotland. This money funds all of SPT’s non-Subway capital works, including their contribution to the new park-and-ride and public transport interchange at Hairmyres.

The Herald: Plans for the new Hairmyres stationPlans for the new Hairmyres station (Image: South Lanarkshire Council)

“The Scottish Government stabbed our town in the back when they downgraded works on the East Kilbride line and now they’ve done it again. This is the grimmest, most utterly stupid Scottish budget there has even been and it will eliminate vital funding for the park-and-ride interchange agreed for the new Hairmyres station.

"It makes no sense at all to move the train station over half a kilometre from where it is now and then leave it there with no car park or bus connections.

"One part of the Scottish Government clearly has no idea what the other is doing.

“We have to urgently explore contingencies now in South Lanarkshire Council, where regrettably the Scottish Government are also imposing cuts to capital budgets.

"People understand that budgets are under pressure right across the public sector but they will not excuse this level of government incompetence and incoherence. The capital funds SPT needs to deliver this project, and other projects like it across the region, must be reinstated.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Given the current financial constraints, with Scotland’s Capital budget being reduced by 10%, a decision was taken to pause SPT’s capital funding for 2024-25, with a view to keeping it under review in future years.

"Transport Scotland and SPT are in dialogue about the impact of this decision and maintaining their forward investment programme.”