FOLLOWING on from Graham Lund’s letter (February 18) I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the curious neglect of the rail route to Largs.

One of the last railways constructed in West Central Scotland this route, completed in 1885, was originally twin track all the way to the terminus at Largs. However on electrification in 1987 the line was reduced to single track, without passing place, from Saltcoats onwards. There is also a short branch from South Beach to Ardrossan Harbour, principally to connect with the Arran ferry. The pattern of services established in 1987 has remained largely unchanged ever since.

The Largs area (comprising Largs, Fairlie, West Kilbride and Millport) has a population of about 18,500, yet the overall public transport provision has not improved over the years and in some respects has become worse. The most important link is the route to Glasgow, our transport hub, and whilst the railway service has remained unchanged, the rival bus service has deteriorated. The fast limited-stop bus service via Kilbirnie has long gone, and the only route that remains is the slow one via Greenock: best journey time: one and a half hourse hours.

In many ways the Largs area seems like an abandoned child. The railway services north of us to Gourock, and south of us to Ayr, have both improved in frequency and speed, but ours remains as it was. We still have the 1987 service: two trains an hour from Glasgow to South Beach, but only one onwards to Largs.

When one examines the timetables in detail, the strangest anomaly occurs on Sunday mornings: whilst the first Sunday train arrives in Gourock at 0805, the first arrival in Largs is not till 1043 – the latest to any of the coastal termini by a considerable margin. This situation seems inexplicable and unjust.

The negative attitude of ScotRail to the Largs line seems to be at the heart of the problem, and I suspect its officials are entrapped in 1980s thinking. This is not in keeping with our present enlightened times, when Glasgow and Edinburgh will soon be served by four separate electrified lines and great improvements are being made to the line linking Inverness and Aberdeen. Unfortunately I have heard no corresponding promise of better days ahead for the traveller from Largs. This is particularly irksome as the necessary change would be so small and, in railway terms, so cheap. As there are already two trains an hour as far as South Beach, could they not both continue to Largs? As things stand, this would be impossible as there is no loop to allow two trains to pass. But there is a disused goods line parallel to the passenger one, all the way from Saltcoats to the closed terminal at Hunterston. Surely a small section of this line could be made suitable for a passing place near Hunterston – about midway between Largs and Saltcoats. Compared to the huge costs of reinstating the railways to Alloa and to the Borders, my proposal is an inexpensive one. Yet by the expenditure of a small sum, the frequency of trains to Largs would be doubled, and encouragement given to the greater use of electrically-powered public transport with all its consequent environmental advantages.

Alastair Chisholm,

2/R 42 Glasgow Street, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae.

LIKE a harbinger of spring and oft times at intervals in other seasons the debate arises once again on the merits of Glasgow Crossrail and the seeming multitude of train service opportunities hither and yon (Letters, February 18). I have gone over this at length in past years and see no reason to repeat my comments on the problems and difficulties this would entail.

I might add, however, that there is no point contemplating "some" services diverted via the Low Level stations at Central and Queen Street as allegedly evinced by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport. If anything, a "new" Glasgow station would be better provided in such as the Saltmarket area which, of course, leaves those availing themselves of the train services envisaged for Glasgow itself making their way to and from there by whatever means.

It must also be borne in mind the total rail infrastructure leading into and out of the Crossrail link from there and to wherever is, in the main, incapable of coping with such increased density of traffic.

John Macnab,

175 Grahamsdyke Street, Laurieston, Falkirk.