Scottish Tories propose reopening of decades-old train lines to boost economy

Dan Sanderson
·2-min read
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross 
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross

Rail routes that have been closed for decades would be resurrected under Tory proposals to boost Scotland’s transport network.

Under the plan, set to be included in the party manifesto, reviews would be launched into lines that were shut under the Beeching cuts of the 1960s and reopened if it was found doing so would make economic sense.

The line between Perth and Edinburgh would be one of those that could be rejuvenated under the plan with the Buchan to Formartine line, in the north east, another contender.

It follows the reopening of the Borders railway, which closed in 1969 and reopened in 2015, and has been widely seen as a success.

The infrastructure plan would also see upgrades to Scotland’s road network, including the dualling of the A1 and expansion of the M8.

"We would review closed rail lines and stations and reopen those which would support local growth,” Mr Ross said.

“"Many iconic railways were shut down during the Beeching cuts of the 1960s - we would review which should be reopened.

Richard Beeching looking at a large map, showing how British Rail trunk routes might look in 1984 
Richard Beeching looking at a large map, showing how British Rail trunk routes might look in 1984

“We'd look to take notes of interest from around the country where people think there is an opportunity for a station to be reopened, a line to be reopened."

The Tories also propose a smart travel card that would work on public transport across Scotland, akin to an Oyster Card in London, and roll out full fibre broadband across Scotland by 2027.

Meanwhile, the party has also suggested using more privatisation to improve the country’s ferry services.

The party set out plans to scrap the state-owned firm which owns the ferries, ports, harbours and associated infrastructure, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL). It owns 36 ferries used around the west coast and northern isles, leasing most to state-owned operator CalMac.

It said long-term contracts should be agreed with individual ferry companies instead.

Mr Ross, who is standing for Holyrood in the Highlands and Islands, where most of the ferries run, agreed that could mean more privatisation.

He said: “There are already private operators within the ferry industry in Scotland. We would look to get the best deal for people who rely on these as a lifeline service.”