DUE to the fire at the disused Ayr Station Hotel on September 25, 2023 no train services have operated south of Ayr to Maybole, Girvan, Barrhill and Stranraer. It is now 28 weeks since the fire and so far no clear date for the resumption of passenger rail services has been provided by Transport Scotland, ScotRail or Network Rail.

Passengers to Ayr from Glasgow and intermediate stations on the route through Paisley have to change into a half-hourly shuttle diesel service at Prestwick Town or utilise a rail replacement bus service. The temporary passenger facilities at Ayr station are best described as basic.

The loss of the various rail passenger services to and from Ayr is having an adverse impact on the local economy, with businesses still trying to recover from the Covid pandemic.

The loss of the rail service linking Stranraer, Barrhill, Girvan and Maybole is impacting on the local communities and disrupting education and medical appointments. The Scottish Government promotes social inclusion yet the lack of this train service is against that initiative.

Network Rail, which owns, manages and maintains the infrastructure on the UK network, completed a £1.9 million upgrade on sections of the Ayr to Stranraer line in early March 2024. A 65-tonne track machine had to be moved by road transporter to and from Stranraer due to the closure of the line for through traffic at Ayr. The two ScotRail diesel trains that had been isolated south of Ayr since the fire were removed by road to a depot in Glasgow for repairs and maintenance. These costs together with the rail replacement bus services and diesel shuttle service to and from Prestwick Town are ultimately paid by the Scottish taxpayers.

There appears to be no leadership or will to try and resolve this matter in a timely manner with no tangible responses from Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop or the Transport Scotland Rail Directorate on what is being done to restore the missing passenger rail services and a milestone date when those services might return.

The fire has also caused disruption to the Grangemouth Ineos to Prestwick aviation fuel trains, which formerly reversed at Ayr Station to reach the sidings near Prestwick Airport and now have to run to Mauchline to reverse and return to the fuel sidings. This increases the mileage of the loaded trains with more locomotive fuel used, wear and tear on the rolling stock, which increases the cost to the freight operator.

South Ayrshire Council is heavily involved, although it seems reluctant to proceed to instruct the demolition of the sections of the hotel structure that are still compromising the adjacent railway line and the surrounding area.

Let us not forget that Transport Scotland is responsible for this railway service on behalf of the Holyrood Parliament funding ScotRail and Network Rail to provide the trains and the railway infrastructure.

The people of this part of Scotland deserve better so when are the politicians and civil servants going to take the decisions that are required to resolve this matter?

Kevin A McCallum, Glasgow.

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We must boost end of life care

JACQ Kelly today ("It's assisted living Scotland needs, not assisted dying", The Herald, April 10) has clearly set out the reasons why the proposed bill on assisted dying should be resisted. It is discriminatory and divisive, ignoring children and those with congenital or acquired mental health conditions who may develop a terminal illness.

Your columnist notes that Hospice UK has a £16 million deficit for end of life palliative care. The last sentence of the article puts the answer in a nutshell: “It’s time our politicians put real effort into providing all terminally ill people with high-quality end of life care.”

This would also remove the moral and ethical difficulties highlighted by earlier medical correspondents.

R S Neill, Bearsden.

• NO ONE should think or feel that they are “freeing up” a space for someone else who needs palliative care (Letters, April 9).

We should all have palliative care when that time comes. It’s a basic human right in a civilised country. As human beings we should be respected, cared for and caring for each other from womb to tomb.

B Lardner, East Kilbride.

The Herald: Fiona HyslopFiona Hyslop (Image: PA)

Give us a new leisure venue

STUART Robertson of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society has suggested a Mackintosh visitor centre on the ruins of the ABC/O2 in Sauchiehall Street, a victim of the art school fire.

Perhaps, many, many years from now, when the art school is rebuilt, this might be a more appropriate place for a visitor centre, leaving the Sauchiehall Street site clear for a new cinema or music venue, somewhere that will, like its predecessors, I would suggest, give more cultural enrichment to more people than the GSA or Mackintosh.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.

Keep the train booze ban

LET me be the party pooper who wishes the current ScotRail alcohol ban to remain ("Majority of rail passengers want alcohol ban scrapped", The Herald, April 11).

Pre-ban, loutish behaviour seemed part of the landscape. I’m a regular long-distance traveller, and I have to wonder if drink-engendered shouting and swearing on our trains forms part of the national psyche.

Keep the ban please.

Gordon Casely, Crathes.

Booker blues

YOU report that the shortlist has been revealed for the 2024 International Booker Prize ("Booker prize shortlist revealed", The Herald, April 10). In this respect you quote a comment from the chairwoman who called the shortlist "implicitly optimistic" whilst engaging with "current realities of racism and oppression, global violence and ecological disaster". Now it may just be me and I am missing something, but the quotes seem mutually exclusive and a contradiction in terms.

Maybe the authors were just having a really bad day.

James Martin, Bearsden.

Topical chimes

AWRIGHT big man, that bampot's been oot when it wis baltic, and he's had a belter of a bevy. No wonder he fell on his bahookie. He must be buttoned up the back.

Parliamo recent letters to the Herald?

David Miller, Milngavie.