MSP criticises Tory and Labour’s rail engagement failure

Dumfriesshire’s Tory MP David Mundell and the region's former Labour MSP failed to contribute to a major consultation on the future of rail routes in Scotland.

The failure to contribute to the Future Routes Study showed Tories and Labour were "all talk and no trousers" when it came to demanding more investment in the region's infrastructure, according to the SNP MSP Joan McAlpine.

Ms McAlpine's own submission to the consultation highlighted the campaigns to link Dumfries by rail to Lockerbie, to electrify and improve the Dumfries-Glasgow service and re-open stations such as Beattock.

She said:

"The Tories and Labour consistently let down Dumfries and Galloway through their lack of ambition and failure to engage constructively with government.

"Decisions on major infrastructure improvements depend on local government and local politicians making the case at every opportunity. This consultation offered that opportunity to move D&G up the agenda for Network Rail's future investment but they ignored it. They then talk of D&G being "forgotten" - it wouldn't be if they did their jobs properly."

The consultation was launched by Network Rail in collaboration with a range of stakeholders including train companies and Transport Scotland. The aim of the exercise was to gather evidence to help funders make decisions about future investment in Scotland’s rail industry – but Ms McAlpine was the only local politician to contribute. She said failing to respond would have been was a missed opportunity to move local rail projects up the national agenda.

Ms McAlpine has campaigned consistently for Dumfries and Galloway to "raise its game" regarding local transport improvements. During the recent Scottish election campaign she pointed out that the regional transport plan lacked ambition. She successfully called for a Transport Summit led by Scottish Government to push the issue up the agenda.

Ms McAlpine said:

"Successful improvement campaigns elsewhere, such as the Borders Railway and the A9 dualling, came as a result of years of successful pressure from the bottom up. Labour and the Tories have to understand that complaining is not enough - you need to have a positive plan and work to achieve it.”

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