ABOUT a decade ago, a list was unveiled by the rail campaign group, Railfuture Scotland, arguing for a major increase in the number of passenger rail stations in the country.
The 50-strong list – then compiled by the now late Railfuture Scotland vice-chair, Roddy McDougall – was of stations that could be added to lines that were already operating; some passenger lines and freight, others freight-only.
The reason for the list was obvious: to argue for passenger traffic to be taken off Scotland’s roads – nowadays an even more pressing concern, as we face the usually terrible consequences of climate change caused by carbon emissions heating the planet up.
Yesterday, in The Herald on Sunday newspaper (here), that same list – thoroughly revised at the start of this year by Railfuture Scotland’s current treasurer, Ralph Barker – was given a fresh airing.
The work by Ralph was not just about removing those entries that have since been brought back into use or are in the process of being opened – such as Reston (pictured) in the Scottish Borders, which is currently under construction.
Ralph’s work was to re-calibrate the expected yearly passenger journeys, with the list being topped by Glasgow Cross, with an anticipated 2m passenger journeys, annually. And also to identify possible new entries, not least because of planned, resurrected or actual new housing developments.
The list ends with Dunragit, in Dumfries and Galloway, with an anticipated 18,000 passenger journeys, annually.
In between, and perhaps not surprisingly, there are new stations imagined for in and around our major conurbations. Glasgow has several, so too Edinburgh, Aberdeen has a handful, as does Dundee. Anyone who has visited the beautiful Culross, in West Fife, will not be surprised that its rail line, hugging the coastline, has been identified as a possible passenger route into Dunfermline.
There is plenty of activity imagined too for in and around Falkirk, and also Perth. Relatively sparsely-populated areas, such as Dumfries and Galloway, are not forgotten, either.
Edinburgh’s clutch of proposed new stations supports a specific campaign in the capital, to re-open, for passenger use, the so-called South Suburban loop.
Readers will note a couple of possible omissions. For instance, because there is no line in existence, there is no mention of proposed rail stations south of Tweedbank, towards Hawick.
Similarly, while many towns within ten or so miles of Edinburgh city centre are now pretty much commuter towns (with the resulting road traffic congestion that you can imagine), the railway lines that used to feed into the capital now no longer exist.
It costs about £2m to build a new station, perhaps less to refurbish any existing building.
Laying down brand-new lines is an entirely different undertaking, but – as one might expect – is the subject of a separate interest of ours.
As well as an expanded network of stations, for rail passengers, Railfuture Scotland also envisages an expanded network of lines. So, we support calls to extend the Borders rail line to Hawick and then onwards to Carlisle.
We also imagine: Dunblane to Crianlarich, Stanley to Laurencekirk and Dumfries to Kirkcudbright and Dunragit, as well as short branches to Cairnryan, St Andrews, Comrie, Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
It goes without saying that any New Town for Scotland would require to be hooked into the country’s rail network. You wouldn’t want to build one without rail transport.
On Friday, the national rail operator, ScotRail, comes into public ownership. The hope is the Scottish Government is alive to our ambitions, and is able to increase the network of passenger rail stations, as we have outlined, plus enact our wider ambitions about expanding rail transport around the country.
Jane Ann Liston is secretary of Railfuture Scotland
Proposed rail station list, accompanied by anticipated annual passenger journeys:
Glasgow Cross 2,166,700
Grangemouth (Falkirk) 360,000
Citizens (Gorbals, Glasgow) 308,250
West Street (Glasgow) 286,450
Winchburgh (West Lothian) 200,000
Kittybrewster (Aberdeen) 200,000
Cumnock (East Ayrshire) 200,000
Portobello (Edinburgh) 200,000
Newtonhill (Kincardineshire) 200,000
Bonnybridge (Falkirk) 180,000
Allander (East Dunbartonshire) 180,000
Abbeyhill (Edinburgh) 170,000
Culloden (near Inverness) 162,000
Bannockburn (near Stirling) 160,000
Cambus (Clackmannanshire) 138,000
Ardrossan North (North Ayrshire) 136,000
Belmont (East Ayrshire) 136,000
Inveralmond (West Lothian) 132,000
Mauchline (East Ayrshire) 120,000
West Ferry (Dundee) 112,000
Cove (near Aberdeen) 102,000
Hurlford (East Ayrshire) 100,000
Parkhead Forge (Glasgow) 90,000
Beattock (Dumfries and Galloway) 86,000
Symington (South Lanarkshire) 82,000
Blindwells (East Lothian) 80,000
Dundee Airport 74,000
Dysart (near Kirkcaldy, Fife) 70,000
Halbeath (near Dunfermline, Fife) 70,000
Ibrox (Glasgow) 68,000
Thornhill (Dumfries and Galloway) 65,000
Bucksburn (Aberdeen) 64,000
Kirkliston (Edinburgh) 60,000
Bridge of Earn (Perth and Kinross) 56,000
Law (South Lanarkshire) 56,000
Plains (North Lanarkshire) 52,000
Newburgh (Fife) 46,000
Cairneyhill (West Fife) 46,000
Kincardine (West Fife) 44,000
Morningside (Edinburgh) 44,000
Gorgie (Edinburgh) 44,000
Cameron Toll (Edinburgh) 42,000
The Jewel (Edinburgh) 42,000
Abernethy (Perth and Kinross) 42,000
Valleyfield (Fife) 42,000
Newington (Edinburgh) 42,000
Abington (South Lanarkshire) 41,000
Culross (West Fife) 40,000
Eastriggs (Dumfries and Galloway) 36,000
Dunragit (Dumfries and Galloway) 18,000
Pictured: Reston rail station, under construction, Picture credit: Place Design Scotland