Beattock Station Action Group comments to SWestrans meeting 20-09-2019

Consultants AECOM reported in July on a South West Scotland transport study and included in the recommendations a detailed study for re-opening Beattock Station on the West Coast Main Line. Consultants Peter Brett Associates reported on the STAG2 for re-opening Beattock Station. These studies are costly and mainly paid for by cash-strapped local councils although the Beattock Action Group have made a significant contribution from local folk & business through fund raising. The Original agenda for us was to take advantage of the Scottish Stations Fund Announced in 2012 (£478 million for Scotland £30 million for South Scotland). Hence our concentration on re-opening the station.

The STAG studies the transport problem and not a station re-opening. Various bus services and cycling were considered. In the consultation 95% of respondents wanted a railway station and were not interested the STAG which they considered a waste of public money and deliberately negative. The consultants were fair in their consideration of economy, social inclusion and environment but it came down to cost, predicted use and fare income. The construction cost was estimated at £14 million made more expensive by the new electrical clearance regulations and longer platforms for inter-city trains even though these operators had no intention of serving the station. A local service may be possible in the long term. The construction would be feasible and a timetable just possible but challenging.

The relatively low catchment population gave an estimated usage from the station of just over 12,000 per annum but half of these would have been extracted from Lockerbie Station some 15 miles away and resulting in a very poor Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR).

Railfuture Scotland have previously indicated a much higher usage in their appraisal of the Railfuture-Scotland-Top-50-Stations of 86000 per annum (see below graphic and PDF). Also travelling north from Dumfries to central belt enhanced by Park & Ride at Beattock. 6 acres next to the Station Yard owned by Community Council (CC) represents significant savings. A Service Level Agreement with the CC for maintenance and development would be arranged. (reducing costs re a different location for the station at Beattock and offsetting the difficulties negative experienced by commuters’ parking in Lockerbie)

There were negatives such as other train users being delayed by the additional stop. (BUT Schedulers in the industry Schedule trains to suit the logistic needs and rural line speeds and lead times give more opportunities to be creative). The consultants explained that this applied to almost all rural stations and that inclusion and environment were the deciding factors. We certainly question the passenger demand and extraction figures. Additionally, the consultants considered at length HS2 and its effect in Scotland with possible quadrupling of the main line.

Railfuture anticipated usage for stations

The report will go to the SW Scotland Regional Transport Partnership (SWestrans) meeting on Friday 20th September 2019.

The use of the Benefit to Cost Ratio (BCR) is what needs to be challenged in some way as public services will always run at a loss and need to be subsidised. How many bus services run almost empty for 90% of their time yet BCR is not a consideration for not providing any service.

Our objective is for equality of access to all public transport and we are missing option of access to community rail services. The original agenda from Government was the station reopening fund and as the survey points out 95% of ‘wants’ are for a Station for their community. The 300% increase is build costs are not going to lessen the arguments and the green agenda seems to be taking a backseat as an ecological benefit – less Co2.

Martin Brown Chairman – Beattock Station Action Group

Re-opening Beattock – Public Event

Public meeting at Moffat Town Hall, Thursday 24th January, 2019.

Please come at any time between 4pm and 8pm

Beattock Station Action Group has been campaigning for the re-opening of the station since 2012. It’s been a long, frustrating and often very political struggle, but now we are in the final stage of the Transport Partnership for Dumfries and Galloway (SWesTrans) Sustainable Transport Options Study for Moffat, Beattock and the surrounding communities.

This features a public meeting, to which everyone is invited, and thus provides the ideal
opportunity for us to turn up, and give our own, personal reasons for wanting Beattock Station to be re-opened.

Beattock and Moffat Sustainable Transport Options Study

SWestrans (the Transport Partnership for Dumfries and
Galloway) has commissioned Peter Brett Associates to
undertake a Sustainable Transport Options Study for Beattock
and Moffat and the surrounding communities, in line with the
Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG).

The study is in the final stages, and this public event is an
opportunity for you to come along, learn about the study, the
transport problems and opportunities identified for the area,
view the transport options developed and appraised, and have
an informal discussion with our team.

Please come along and let us know your thoughts on the
options developed and how they may impact you.

Public Event on Thursday 24th January 2019
16:00 – 20:00 (Drop-in any time)
Moffat Town Hall
High Street
Moffat

2018 Meeting with Transport Minister presentation

The presentation given to the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister by the Action Group and students of Moffat Academy.

The notes for each of the Academy pupils follows below and the visual presentation is at the end of the notes in the form of a downloadable powerpoint presentation.

1 – Moffat Academy pupils and also where we each live:
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak to you about how the opening of the railway station at Beattock would affect young people in the area. Our group comprises a group of pupils from Moffat Academy :
Jodie Shannon – currently in S6 – lives in Beattock
Emma Carlyle – also S6 – has lived in Beattock all her life and previous generations have too
Hayley Drummond – also S6 – lives in Moffat – just 2 miles from Beattock
Finlay Fraser Dowds – currently in S3 – lives in Moffat
Matthew Macfarlane – currently in S1 – from south of Moffat
2 – HAYLEY
Beattock is uniquely placed – at the very north of Dumfries and Galloway – but slap bang in the middle of the country from east to west. It is just 2 miles from Moffat – a popular destination for tourists. Nearest cities are Glasgow, Edinburgh and Carlisle. The stretch of rail track going through Beattock is in the longest length of track in the UK with no station – people from our area therefore have to travel to access a train service. If the station was reopened it would have a major impact on the local population but especially young people as the major Scottish cities would be only 45 minutes away.
3. EMMA
Currently our closest station is at Lockerbie – around 15 miles away. The service from Lockerbie is good but the lack of bus services linking in with the train times means that there is often a long wait to access a train. This is especially true in bad weather – as we saw from the snow last week. For people with cars it is easier although Lockerbie Station has very limited parking and the neighbouring streets are always congested causing disruption for people living near the station. Reopening Beattock Station would alleviate that problem.
4. JODIE
If Beattock Station reopened it could have an enormous impact on young people accessing further and higher education. 65% of pupils from our school go on the further study with the majority aiming for places at institutions in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Having a direct rail link would mean easier journeys for students and for the first time would open up the possibility of students staying at home while studying in the city. Given the high cost of halls of residence this would be especially beneficial for students nervous about living in the city and for students from less affluent families worried about the financial implications of further study. Drop out rates are high and for some students the opportunity to remain at home while they transition to student life could make the difference.
5. FINLAY
1. In recent years a community action plan was drawn up to help identify things that will be important in Moffat and Beattock in the next 10 years. Lots of groups were consulted on their views – pupils at both both Beattock Primary and Moffat Academy played their part in presenting the views of young people. The reopening of the station was seen as a “game changer” for both communities – the Beattock action plan identified the importance of the station as helping to make Beattock
a) A transport Hub for the area
b) A safe and pleasant place to live
c) A place with a growing community
d) A place where local people are leading
6. MATTHEW
If Beattock Station were to reopen it would also be important for the local economy of the area. Moffat is an important tourist town with many people employed in the local shops, hotels, cafes and restaurants. Opening a station would bring more people in to the town securing jobs and bringing prosperity to the local economy. Recently statistics showed that Moffat has one of the highest proportions of people who are self employed. Improving transport links would encourage other entrepreneurs to base themselves here knowing that they are in close proximity to the cities should they need it. The Borders railway showed how important the reopening could be for tourism – with 8% increase in employment linked to tourism being achieved there.
7. EMMA
Moffat has a thriving tourist trade with many key events on the calendar. These include events such as the sheep race, the world gold panning championship and the vintage car rally pulling in visitors. At the moment all these visitors have to come by car or bus. If the station reopened with shuttle buses to Moffat it could bring in even more visitors.

8. Hayley
For young people opening the station would help end feelings of rural isolation.
People don’t feel like they will be stuck here forever – allowing them to be more ambitious
Mental health is a huge issue just now – especially for young people – and young people in our area are no different. Some people in our area are dependent on alcohol or drugs and unemployment is also an issue. Being able to access life in the city may help some people see that there are other possibilities out there.
9. FINLAY
People would be able to access the full range of events on offer in the city. This would include sporting events like big football matches, rugby internationals, Commonwealth games etc Music and theatre venues would also be opened up e.g. the SSE Hydro. We have talented young people at Moffat Academy – for example we have national champions in gymnastics – opening up the railway would allow elite athletes and musicians to access world class facilities and training programmes in the cities.
10. Matthew
To conclude
We think the reopening of the station could be really important to open up opportunities for young people wanting to access student life, it could transform the local economy and create jobs and it could improve the quality of life for young people in the area. With your help we hope that the success of the Borders Railway could become a reality for Beattock too. Thank you.

2018 BEATTOCK TRAIN STATION with notes

SWestrans Board Agrees Next Steps For Beattock Station

The SWestrans Board’s final decision, having dismissed Dunragit as an viable option, was that the three remaining priority stations, Beattock/Moffat, Thornhill and Eastriggs, would move to the next stage of the process (i.e. Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance part 1).

The Board meeting on 15th July deliberated the options, following a presentation where opportunities and problems were explored for Thornhill, Eastriggs, Dunragit/Glenluce and Beattock/Moffat station reopening’s. This included an analysis of each of the independent pre-STAG reports which had been prepared by Peter Brett Associates.

The estimated cost of this, for each station, was  in the region of £15000 – £20000, and it would fall to Dumfries & Galloway Council to provide the resources and finances to move this on, as part of D&G Council’s ongoing bid for funding from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Station’s £30 million fund for southern Scotland.

It is so good to know that Beattock’s reopening is now on a level playing field with Thornhill and Eastriggs for the next stage of the STAG process, and that SWestrans will provide the resources practical and financial to move this on (subject to Council Members’ approval re finances).

For all three stations this is the first tick in the box to enable access to the Scottish Stations Fund for our region, and well done to Peter Brett Associates and SWestrans for facilitating this.

It was also good to have Network Rail represented at the meeting. The WILL to change things for more sustainable transport options continues.

Thank you for your continued support.

Regards

Martin Brown

Chair of Beattock Station Action Group

STAG Pre-appraisal Report Highlights

Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance pre-stage report finalised. The STAG provides the mechanism by which potential options to address evidence-based transport problems or opportunities are identified and appraised in a consistent manner.

  • Evidence, not solution-led, proportional and robust

Open Response Comments also included a focus on Beattock:

  • Many calls for a new rail station at Beattock
  • Feeling that station would improve connectivity and boost local
    economy
  • Issues with current public transport timetabling

Impact on transport integration

  • Impact on the elderly and disabled residents
  • Constraining access to key services
  • Increasing journey times

Official Beattock Transport Study Survey

Please help to support & forward our cause to complete The Transport Options Study by sharing your views on the transport provision in the Moffat/Beattock area and wider access to larger towns and Cities. Each family member can get involved as everyone has different transport needs and aspirations.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Beattocktransportstudy

The independent Transport Options Study is supported by the regional transport forum, Swestrans, which represents Dumfries and Galloway Council. Re-opening Beattock Station is one of the Council’s transport priorities.