TRANSPORT Minister Keith Brown was last week “delighted to confirm” that nine at-risk Glasgow rail stations will remain open – despite repeated reassurances that there were no plans for closure.
By Magdalene Dalziel
THE ANNOUNCEMENT came after it was revealed that over 12,000 people responded to Transport Scotland’s Rail 2014 consultation.
Mosspark railway station was included along with Ashfield, Barnhill,Duke Street, Gilshochill, Kelvindale, Kennishead, Maryhill and Nitshill in a fact sheet which supplemented the consultation document.
The government agency had included an option to close the nine Glasgow stations, as well as five others throughout Scotland, due to their proximity to other stations, in order to save £208,000.
The transport minister had insisted there were “no plans” to close, but refrained from guaranteeing the future of the listed stations until a visit to Glasgow Central station last week.
He said:”There were 12,000 responses and, having looked through them, it was clear there was no demand or appetite for closing stations.
“I said repeatedly there was no plan or intention on the Government’s part to close stations, but we had to listen to the consultation responses.”
Craigton Labour councillor Alistair Watson responded to the minister’s announcement.He said: “The government’s argument was extremely weak.
“Humza Yousaf reassured us the minister had given him assurance that closure was not an option], but i’m perplexed as to why you would introduce a consultation document and then say you had no intention of closing anything but then produce a factsheet which identifies one of the potential stations for closure.”
Watson and SNP MSP Yousaf both spoke at a packed-out meeting of South Cardonald and Crookston community council in January, organised to discuss the consultation. Over 200 people attended to share concerns over the future of Mosspark.
At the event, Yousaf asked residents of the areas served by the station to “remember it’s just a factsheet”, yet vowed to support campaigners if closures were to go ahead.
Speaking at his Glasgow City Chambers office last week, Watson added: “I think the government got a sting in the tail about the volume of public opposition to it, I suppose if anything it’s a lesson to them.
“It’s a huge endorsement for the people who signed up to the campaign to keep the railway station opened and the government, if anything, will think very carefully about embarking on a consultation exercise like this again.
“What we should be doing is embracing a consultation about how we improve our rail services, not curtail or scale them down. There is demand for more travel by rail; we know people want more services and they want improvement. I think that’s what we should be exploring rather than anything to do with cut-backs.”
Figures from the Office of Rail Regulation had shown an increase in use of all of the stations at risk. Mosspark was the busiest of the nine in the firing line with an almost 15% increase in use over the past two years.
The station serves 111,000 passengers each year – making up 13% of users of the Paisley Canal line – and 53% of people living in its surrounding areas rely on public transport.
Cross-party politicians, the local press throughout Glasgow and transport group SPT had all opposed the possible closures – just one of the options considered in the consultation which will plan the future of Scottish rail services when the current Scotrail franchise ends in 2014.