Keeping three direct services per day to Glasgow and a concerted effort to see ferry passengers use the Stranraer railway line are top of the agenda for a new community rail partnership.
Local community rail organisation, SAYLSA, is set to be one of the first designated Scottish Community Rail Partnerships.
At its annual general meeting last week at the North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer, members approved a new board with cross-regional representation drawn from communities in Carrick and Wigtownshire.
The Stranraer to Ayr Line Support Association board includes members from across a range of sectors including business, tourism, education, community groups and community councils.
Delegates listened to a presentation on the vision for the future of the 60-mile link between Stranraer and Ayr before participating in a lively discussion on the proposals in its Vision document.
Amongst the proposals are retention of three direct services per day with Glasgow and a concerted effort to see the ferry foot traffic return to the line, a regular Stranraer/Girvan – Ayr – Kilmarnock service, a focus on boosting tourism through the adoption of heritage features at the line’s four stations, the promotion of charter trains, improved connectivity at Barrhill and Stranraer, new ticketing products for the area, the development of apprenticeship schemes and efforts to secure a return of rail freight traffic.
New chairman John McCutcheon said: “We have been through a difficult year but have emerged strong with cross-sectoral community support. It is now time to move forward with a bold and imaginative strategy that is deliverable to help revive the local economy and harness the role our railway plays within it”.
Eighteen Members from as far afield as Yorkshire attended the event along with John Yellowlees from train operator ScotRail.
Members Richard Carr and Irene Climie, both founders of SAYLSA in 2007, were awarded five-year voluntary service awards for their outstanding contribution to the railway community.
Richard is often seen driving the SAYLSA minibus while Irene regularly staffs the SAYLSA shop at Girvan.
Roger Pirrie from Pinmore & Pinwherry Community Council, who was elected as Carrick’s community council representative on the Partnership, said: “The meeting was first class, thought provoking, very useful and thoroughly professional and I look forward to playing a role in shaping our railway in the months and years that lie ahead.”
Last week passenger usage figures for 2012/13 showed the Stranraer line to be the best performing rural railway line in Scotland and south west Regional Transport Partnership SWestrans have indicated support for a new station serving Dunragit and Glenluce.