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Ayrshire Railway Investment - Next 20 years

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Scotrail314209

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Came across an interesting article on the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald today about investment being made in the transport network over the next 20 years. Some rather incredible and interesting ideas.

https://www.ardrossanherald.com/news/19294942.north-ayrshire-transport-scotland-considering-future-ayrshire-travel/
Short new rail curve from Drybridge to Gailes (opening up options for an intra-Ayrshire rail network) e.g. some Glasgow-Kilmarnock services extended via Drybridge and on via Irvine to Ardrossan OR back to Glasgow via Kilwinning – such trains could reverse at Kilmarnock station or utilise an alternative route (partly still in use) via east side of Kilmarnock to Riccarton and Gatehead – suitable new stations included.

Improve east-west rail connections within Ayrshire (e.g. direct services between Kilmarnock, Ardrossan and Largs) and north-south rail connections within Ayrshire (e.g. direct services between Largs-Ayr).

New Rail Line (Lugton to Kilwinning).

New Rail Station (Drybridge) a former station with more housing now available to north and south.

Rail realignment at Saltcoats to mitigate impact of rising sea levels.

Fill in the Rail link between Largs, Northbound, to Wemyss Bay.
New Rail Station (Ardrossan North).
New Rail Station (Largs Marina).
The only one I'm concerned about is Largs to Wemyss Bay, it's very hilly and at the end of Largs station, there is the town centre.

What are your thoughts on this and are we likely to see more investment like this in other areas of the country?

Admins - Please move is this is in the wrong thread.
 
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waverley47

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Ardrossan North and Largs Marina have both been in the works for a while, but they've got a bit to trundle through the GRIP process first. Drybridge isn't big enough to really justify its own station without first having a decent frequency on the line.

A link between Wemyss and Largs is unlikely but I wouldn't rule it out in the long term Short term however, if the Victorians didn't get around to building this stretch it seems unlikely that demolishing the listed Wemyss station to build the link in the modern day is going to attract much enthusiasm.

Realignment of Salcoats is definitley in the pipeline, it's just that bit too exposed to the elements to be fully resilient for the next couple of decades. Haven't seen anything published yet, but should be something soon if plans are progressing.

Lugton to Kilwinning isn't going to reopen any time soon, too far and all you're achieving is moving Ayrshire trains onto the congested Barrhead line and single track sections.

The other improvements seem aimed at improving journeys across Ayrshire. Granted, better journeys are needed from Kilmarnock to Ayr by train, but how many people realistically are there making that journey, and even then. Seems a bit of a wishlist rather than anything else.

(Also, having looked through the TS documentation, i can't actually find any of this stuff mentioned. Seems a bit odd that these should come from nowhere, but I can't seem to find any actual evidence of these proposals having ever been proposed)



Edit: found it. This is a sifted peppering of proposals drawn from the master list. PDF E on this page is the master list, and while granted there is some good stuff, here are well over 1500 proposals in there. It seems like more of a wishlist from a local paper than anything else, sprinkled with enough legitimacy to make a story.
 
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duncanp

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Being familiar with the area, I would also suggest that there needs to be a more regular service on the line between Kilmarnock, Dumfries and Carlisle.

On Mondays - Saturdays, there are some long gaps in the service, and only two trains per day South of Kilmarnock on Sundays.

I would have thought there is a case for an hourly service from Carlisle to Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock, calling at all stations to Barrhead, and then fast to Glasgow Central.

There should also be an hourly service from Kilmarnock to Girvan via Ayr, with perhaps some new stations on the line between Kilmarnock and the junction at Barassie. Perhaps every other one of these trains could be extended to Stranraer.

Still the situation is a lot better than the early 1980s, when Kilmarnock only had a handful of trains per day (about 5) to Glasgow on weekdays, and nothing at all on Sundays.
 

Scotrail314209

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One of the best proposals for me are Largs - Ardrossan - Ayr services. In the mornings and evenings Ayr to Ardrossan/Largs are actually very busy with commuter flows to and from Ayr. The University being in Ayr also helps this.

I struggle to see the benefit of a Kilmarnock one as the 11 service pretty much suffices, running every 10 minutes.

I definitely think out of all of the proposals is realigning the line at Saltcoats. The only issue is where would you put it? Theres a road as well as a caravan park, golf courses and a slaughterhouse, with sea on the other side.
 

waverley47

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Being familiar with the area, I would also suggest that there needs to be a more regular service on the line between Kilmarnock, Dumfries and Carlisle.

On Mondays - Saturdays, there are some long gaps in the service, and only two trains per day South of Kilmarnock on Sundays.

I would have thought there is a case for an hourly service from Carlisle to Glasgow via Dumfries and Kilmarnock, calling at all stations to Barrhead, and then fast to Glasgow Central.

There should also be an hourly service from Kilmarnock to Girvan via Ayr, with perhaps some new stations on the line between Kilmarnock and the junction at Barassie. Perhaps every other one of these trains could be extended to Stranraer.

Still the situation is a lot better than the early 1980s, when Kilmarnock only had a handful of trains per day (about 5) to Glasgow on weekdays, and nothing at all on Sundays.

In the pipeline, at some point the missing gap from Kilmarnock to Dumfries is going to hourly (after East Kilbride wiring cascades some spare units) and the full timetable should come into swing.

Eventually (a decade or so away) the line is going to get wired, and this in conjunction with the single track section from Barrhead to Kilmarnock getting sorted out, there should be 2tph stoppers to Kilmarnock from Glasgow, and 1tph the full way through to Carlisle.
 

duncanp

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In the pipeline, at some point the missing gap from Kilmarnock to Dumfries is going to hourly (after East Kilbride wiring cascades some spare units) and the full timetable should come into swing.

Eventually (a decade or so away) the line is going to get wired, and this in conjunction with the single track section from Barrhead to Kilmarnock getting sorted out, there should be 2tph stoppers to Kilmarnock from Glasgow, and 1tph the full way through to Carlisle.

It is good to hear that there are plans to improve the service between Kilmarnock and Carlisle, but 10 years seems an awfully long time to wait.

I would hope that the would double track the line as far as possible, as well as electrify it, so that there is capacity for a faster and more robust service less prone to delays.

Electrifying the line would make even more of a it a useful diversionary route to the West Coast Main Line, and at least raise the possibility of some services continuing South from Carlisle.

I do remember seeing (diesel hauled) trains at Kilmarnock in the 1980s going all the way to London Euston.
 

Bill57p9

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There should also be an hourly service from Kilmarnock to Girvan via Ayr, with perhaps some new stations on the line between Kilmarnock and the junction at Barassie. Perhaps every other one of these trains could be extended to Stranraer.
There is already 1tph Ayr - Girvan with every other extended to Stranraer. Many start back at Kilmarnock and some originate in Glasgow Central via Kilmarnock (as 1 of the 2tph between Glasgow and Kilmarnock). Some now and most in the year BC (before COVID) that terminated at Ayr run ECS onto the Kilmarnock branch at Barassie before returning to Ayr, all in the equivalent path to the through Kilmarnock service. I therefore don't entirely understand why Girvan - Ayr - Kilmarnock (and frankly - Glasgow Central) couldn't be hourly now: the stock is there, the driver is there. I'm not sure whether an ECS 156 needs a guard...

In the pipeline, at some point the missing gap from Kilmarnock to Dumfries is going to hourly (after East Kilbride wiring cascades some spare units) and the full timetable should come into swing.

Eventually (a decade or so away) the line is going to get wired, and this in conjunction with the single track section from Barrhead to Kilmarnock getting sorted out, there should be 2tph stoppers to Kilmarnock from Glasgow, and 1tph the full way through to Carlisle.
BC (Before COVID) Scotrail ran 2tph Glasgow - Kilmarnock, so it is possible with the existing infrastructure, personnel and stock.

All in all we could already improve connectivity with
  • 1tph Glasgow - Kilmarnock - Ayr - Girvan, every other extended to Stranraer
  • 1tph Glasgow - Kilmarnock, roughly every other extended to Dumfries & Carlisle (Dumfries - Carlisle is already 1tph)
I agree, the Sunday provision between Kilmarnock & Dumfries is somewhat lacking.
As someone who lives between Ayr & Auckinleck, the GSW is mighty useful for trips into England.
 

D6130

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I definitely think out of all of the proposals is realigning the line at Saltcoats. The only issue is where would you put it? Theres a road as well as a caravan park, golf courses and a slaughterhouse, with sea on the other side.
I would imagine that the best option for a deviation avoiding the sea wall at Saltcoats would be to divert the line from roughly the site of the old Stevenston No. 2 signalbox onto the trackbed of the former Caley Line to Montgomerie Pier. This would, of course, mean the closure of the existing Stevenston, Saltcoats, South Beach and Ardrossan Town stations, reopening Stevenston and Saltcoats High stations, putting in a new curve back onto the Largs line in North Ardrossan - with an appropriately-sited station - and building a new connection in the port area to connect from the former Montgomerie Pier line onto the existing Ardrossan Harbour (ex-Winton Pier) station. IIRC, most of the old Caley line is now a walking and cycling route. If that is the case, there would have to be an exchange of roles and it would have to be diverted along the existing seafront route.
 

waverley47

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The trains are going to go to Dumfries though, and that requires extra stock.

You're recollection is a bit off. Currently only 1tp2h extends from Girvan extends to Kilmarnock, and from memory three per day come from Glasgow. There is also only 1tp2h from Kilmarnock south. You need extra units to have 1tph even service from Kilmarnock to Ayr, and from Kilmarnock southwards.

The infrastructure is there currently, but the single track section makes it tight (Kilmarnock will be going to 3tph, of which one extending to Dumfries). The Girvan trains should also all be extending to Kilmarnock. That's doubling the service provision south and east of Kilmarnock.

There aren't anywhere near enough spare units at the moment to make either route hourly.


There is already 1tph Ayr - Girvan with every other extended to Stranraer. Many start back at Kilmarnock and some originate in Glasgow Central via Kilmarnock (as 1 of the 2tph between Glasgow and Kilmarnock). Some now and most in the year BC (before COVID) that terminated at Ayr run ECS onto the Kilmarnock branch at Barassie before returning to Ayr, all in the equivalent path to the through Kilmarnock service. I therefore don't entirely understand why Girvan - Ayr - Kilmarnock (and frankly - Glasgow Central) couldn't be hourly now: the stock is there, the driver is there. I'm not sure whether an ECS 156 needs a guard...


BC (Before COVID) Scotrail ran 2tph Glasgow - Kilmarnock, so it is possible with the existing infrastructure, personnel and stock.

All in all we could already improve connectivity with
  • 1tph Glasgow - Kilmarnock - Ayr - Girvan, every other extended to Stranraer
  • 1tph Glasgow - Kilmarnock, roughly every other extended to Dumfries & Carlisle (Dumfries - Carlisle is already 1tph)
I agree, the Sunday provision between Kilmarnock & Dumfries is somewhat lacking.
As someone who lives between Ayr & Auckinleck, the GSW is mighty useful for trips into England.


Basically not enough units. Doubling services south and west of Kilmarnock requires double the units. The units that you could use are currently trundling back and forth from East Kilbride and Barrhead all day. When the wires come the spare 156s will find themselves redistributed between the west highland and south western lines where they will live out their last decade or so
 
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Scotrail314209

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I would imagine that the best option for a deviation avoiding the sea wall at Saltcoats would be to divert the line from roughly the site of the old Stevenston No. 2 signalbox onto the trackbed of the former Caley Line to Montgomerie Pier. This would, of course, mean the closure of the existing Stevenston, Saltcoats, South Beach and Ardrossan Town stations, reopening Stevenston and Saltcoats High stations, putting in a new curve back onto the Largs line in North Ardrossan - with an appropriately-sited station - and building a new connection in the port area to connect from the former Montgomerie Pier line onto the existing Ardrossan Harbour (ex-Winton Pier) station. IIRC, most of the old Caley line is now a walking and cycling route. If that is the case, there would have to be an exchange of roles and it would have to be diverted along the existing seafront route.

Thats a good idea! But the main thing here is that you'd get outcry from the local community with the anger of their stations being moved, as the three mentioned are perfectly sited for the area.

Unfortunately it is the only way forward I can see, unless they purchase the land next to the railway.
 

Altnabreac

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I would imagine that the best option for a deviation avoiding the sea wall at Saltcoats would be to divert the line from roughly the site of the old Stevenston No. 2 signalbox onto the trackbed of the former Caley Line to Montgomerie Pier. This would, of course, mean the closure of the existing Stevenston, Saltcoats, South Beach and Ardrossan Town stations, reopening Stevenston and Saltcoats High stations, putting in a new curve back onto the Largs line in North Ardrossan - with an appropriately-sited station - and building a new connection in the port area to connect from the former Montgomerie Pier line onto the existing Ardrossan Harbour (ex-Winton Pier) station. IIRC, most of the old Caley line is now a walking and cycling route. If that is the case, there would have to be an exchange of roles and it would have to be diverted along the existing seafront route.
So your proposal is that you would purchase and demolish 40 or so residential properties on the trackbed at Argyle Place, Saltcoats, 8 or so at McDowall Avenue, Ardrossan to link into the Largs line, 14 properties at Shellbridge Way Ardrossan, neutralise half the area of the North Shore Development Area, build a new (Lifting) bridge over Ardrossan Marina, build 5km of new track and 4 or 5 new stations in less convenient locations.

This is because it will be cheaper and simpler than the alternative of purchasing 5 residential and 2 commercial properties in Saltcoats and realigning 1km of track along the sea front.

Sounds a viable plan.
 

yorkie

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Having walked between Largs & Weymss Bay earlier this month, I would say the chances of a rail link between the two are zero.
...IIRC, most of the old Caley line is now a walking and cycling route. If that is the case, there would have to be an exchange of roles and it would have to be diverted along the existing seafront route.
Yes, this is the case; we had planned to walk that too, but we didn't get round to it.
I would hope that the would double track the line as far as possible, as well as electrify it, so that there is capacity for a faster and more robust service less prone to delays.
As it happens, we were 15 minutes waiting for a train to clear a single line section on the same trip. The decision was taken for us to run limited stop, which made up enough time to enable the next train in the other direction to depart Kilmarnock on time and thus avoid the delays propagating. I can certainly see a case for more redoubling of this line.

(I'll tag @Huntergreed into this as he may have some thoughts!)
 

Tobbes

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Having walked between Largs & Weymss Bay earlier this month, I would say the chances of a rail link between the two are zero.
A quick look at Google Earth makes you wonder how they are thinking about achieving this? Leave both Wemyss Bay and Largs as terminals and have a double reversal with a new line running inland of the towns? I can't see how else you do it with lots of demolition, and in the end, to what end? How much traffic between the two is this supposed to generate?
 

Scotrail314209

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A quick look at Google Earth makes you wonder how they are thinking about achieving this? Leave both Wemyss Bay and Largs as terminals and have a double reversal with a new line running inland of the towns? I can't see how else you do it with lots of demolition, and in the end, to what end? How much traffic between the two is this supposed to generate?

It will generate very little. Largs already has a McGill’s bus to Wemyss Bay every 15 minutes.
 

Altnabreac

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Although I have friends in the three towns, whom I visit from time to time, I am happy to bow to your superior local knowledge!

I don’t have any particular local knowledge beyond access to Google Maps.

Just pointing out a symptom common to posters on RailForums whereby people compare a new to rail alignment and a reopening and always choose the reopening despite it being longer, less useful, more demolition and more expensive.

Alignment away from the Saltcoats seafront is perfectly possible (albeit expensive and requiring a CPO or TWA).

I’m not that convinced it will happen but I can happily say it would certainly have a better business case than the reopening alternative.
 

gingerheid

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The Glasgow and South-Western Railway did have a proposal to go from Largs to Greenock (though not Wemyss Bay). It was a slightly odd proposal and it wasn't surprising it didn't happen, though it was also quite doomed in any case because the Brisbane Estate didn't approve of it! The proposed route out of Largs is of course now entirely built on (as far as the stream after Raillies Farmhouse, which still exists though in the middle of a housing estate rather than as a farmhouse).


I don't see any way any route could happen nowadays. It would involve some combination of too many houses, too many gardens, too many level crossings, too much green space near the sea front, and / or too much building exposed railway line on the top of beaches and next to a road that's often flooded in the winter.

If we were a country that cared about transport something light rail related might be possible, but... we're not. While it pains me to say it, the most useful realistic improvement to public transport between Largs and Greenock might be the more reliable bus service that would become possible if a new A78 was built somewhere further away from the coast :(

I don't see the value in a second railway station in Largs at the marina. It would be the closest station to not very much; my preferred way of making more of Largs closer to the railway station would be an improved local bus service!

A second train per hour to Largs would be amazing. I realise that it wouldn't fit into Glasgow, but if it went to Ayr and offered Glasgow connections at either the three towns or Irvine that would also be pretty good.

At a first glance it looks as if a fourth railway station in Ardrossan would actually be a nice idea, but the road layout makes it hard to find a good place to put it until you are quite close to the other three anyway.

As regards Saltcoats - is diverting the railway fixing the wrong problem? The 318s [almost] always managed to brave the weather - albeit often with a slight delay while the guard went through and made sure all the windows were closed on the water side of the train! The problem seemed to be that the newer trains were less weatherproof?
 
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