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19/11/2014 11:16
Expansions for Scotland’s rail network proposed

Extensive proposals to further expand Scotland’s booming rail network have been mapped out by campaigners Railfuture Scotland.

The group has compiled a “top 50” list of stations to be opened or re-opened from Beattock to Culloden, with a further 45 to follow.

It has also proposed 23 new passenger and freight lines, and faster and more frequent trains on existing routes, including through electrification.

The plans coincide with what transport minister Keith Brown has hailed as a new “golden age” for rail in Scotland, and a “can do” attitude among Network Rail chiefs.

The number of rail passengers in Scotland has increased by one third to nearly 90 million a year.

More than £1 billion is already being spent by the Scottish Government on new and upgraded lines, such as re-opening the Borders Railway and electrifying the main Edinburgh-Glasgow route.

Ministers this year also opened a £30m fund to help pay for new stations.

Some 70 which have been added to the Scottish network over the past 30 years, bringing the total to more than 350.

Railfuture’s new station list covers virtually every existing line, from Newtonhill near Aberdeen to Dunragit, near Stranraer.

They include new stops in and around all Scotland’s six cities such as Beechwood in Inverness, Bucksburn in Aberdeen, Abbeyhill in Edinburgh, Ibrox in Glasgow, Bridge of Earn near Perth, and Cambus near Stirling.

New lines proposed include to St Andrews, Lossiemouth, Haddington, Penicuik and Kilmacolm.

Railfuture also called on ministers to accelerate planned improvements for more and faster trains on the Inverness to Perth and Aberdeen lines.

It also wants the proposed pace of electrification for faster-accelerating trains to be doubled so lines in Fife and between Perth and Dundee are upgraded by 2022.

It said those should be followed by the remainder of the route between Dunblane and Aberdeen, the Perth-Inverness line, the Borders Railway, and remaining routes in Ayrshire.

Railfuture Scotland vice-chair Roderick McDougall said: “All our proposals are designed to maximise the potential for mode shift from road to rail for both passengers and freight.”

“Rail is the most sustainable form of both passenger and freight transport over distances where walking or cycling are impracticable.

“Electrification reduces energy, maintenance costs and carbon emissions and improves performance and reliability.

“New lines and stations to give a better rail system and service for passengers and freight.”