Lanark rail link to capital could be done on the cheap

Restoring Lanark's rail link to Edinburgh would amount to a fraction of the cost involved in rebuilding the successful Borders Railway, it's been claimed.

Borders Railway
Borders Railway

It was the boom that line has brought to the south of Scotland economy that has renewed calls for Lanark to also enjoy a through-train service to the capital city again.

Initially, there were calls for the short rail ‘spur’ at Cleghon that once took trains onto the main line to Carstairs and then Edinburgh to be rebuilt, but Lanark Community Council was told at its latest meeting that this would now be “impossible”.

Council vice-chairman Leonard Gray told the meeting that he’d consulted with a now-retired rail industry veteran who had said the building of homes on the old spur route since the rails were ripped up - plus overcoming other technical and engineering problems - now made its restoration economically unfeasible.

The steam Train Spirit of South Africa leaves Waverley Station.

A far more economical way of restoring the service would be running trains to and from Lanark by ‘switching’ them in the Edinburgh direction when they reached the main line at Cleghorn; changing the signalling on the line would be the main cost involved in such a scheme and this could be done “for a six figure sum” - under a million pounds, the Borders Line having cost around £250million to restore.

He went on to say that several interested parties, some experts in the public transport field, had contated him, offering advice on hearing of the Lanark-Edinburgh link campaign started by council member Leslie Reid, who has set up a Facebook page inviting support.

The council agreed to his suggestion that these experts be called together for a public meeting in Lanark “to really get the campaign underway.”

He went on to say that the current, limited, direct rail access to Edinburgh from Carstairs didn’t meet Lanark’s needs.

The steam Train Spirit of South Africa leaves Waverley Station.

“We have a good bus transport link to New Lanark and the Clyde Valley Carstairs hasn’t,”

He pointed out that the boost to local economies of earlier rail restorations “have all exceeded expectations”, including the Borders Line and the re-opening of Larkhall Station some years ago.

Council chairman Frank Gunning said that the boost to Lanark’s economy could be “enormous” and a direct rail link could even boost the Royal Burgh’s population with people working in Ediburgh being able to buy an affrodable home here and commute to and from work.

“We could even see a Lanark housing boom from this, The benefits are endless.” he added.