The Ayr to Stranraer line is the best performing rural railway line in Scotland.
And that’s official following the release of figures by the Office of Rail Regulation that show passenger numbers on the Stranraer line increased dramatically in 2012/13 and are nearly up to the level reached when ferry services operated out of the town.
The number of passenger journeys is up a staggering 14.4% and the 60-mile line to Stranraer has outperformed the West Highland Line to Fort William, the West Highand line extension to Mallaig, the Kyle of Lochalsh line, the Oban line and the Far North line to Wick and Thurso. Indeed all the Highland lines saw a reduction in passenger numbers last year except the Far North line which returned growth figures of 0.6%
SAYLSA’s Chair John McCutcheon said: “It is gratifying to see that the hard work put into marketing the line and the publication of our credit card sized timetables has paid off and proves that with the right effort this line can thrive. It is vitally important that under the new franchise through trains are maintained to the central belt aiding tourism and stimulating growth and the board have emphasised this point to prospective bidders”
Over a quarter of a million people used the Stranraer line and for the first time this did not include any ferry passengers, which ceased using the port in November 2011. Of the 255,978 passenger journeys the largest increase was at Maybole up 21% and Stranraer increased by 20% no doubt aided by the two-month ticket promotion during August and September 2012. Numbers were up at Barrhill and Girvan too, by 8%.
The numbers also vindicated the effort put into promoting the line by SAYLSA Scotland’s only undesignated community rail partnership.
Prior to their formation in 2007 passenger numbers grew by 10% but latest figures show that growth since then has been nearly three times higher at 29.4%.
By contrast other stations fared less well. Despite an increase in services, Ayr grew by just 1%, Troon by 2% and Irvine 3%.