Saturday, 1 September 2018
Ayr rail services a priority for cross-partner task force
Returning full rail passenger services to Ayrshire as quickly and safely as possible is the key priority for a new task force established and chaired by Transport Scotland.
Services operating between Glasgow and Ayr have had reduced capacity since Tuesday, with no services operating beyond Ayr to Maybole, Girvan and Stranraer. This is due to the extension of an exclusion zone around a dangerous building at Ayr train station at the former Station Hotel.
Partners on the task force include the ScotRail Alliance, South Ayrshire Council, Historic Environment Scotland, as well as the Scottish Government Planning and Architecture and Local Government divisions. Other departments will be called on as and where required.
South Ayrshire Council will continue to lead the process to address the public safety issues and remove the extended exclusion zone as soon as it's safe to do so, enabling rail services to be restored. The task force will ensure all parts of the Scottish Government work together, along with ScotRail and Network Rail, to support the council in delivering this urgent priority
Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland's director of rail and chair of the task force said: "It is imperative we are focused not only on ensuring full rail services can be safely restored at Ayr, but also that any long-term resolution plan identified contributes to the economic prosperity of the town centre and the communities south of Ayr currently without a train service.
"This means we need to explore all the available options for dealing with the Station Hotel property which, in its current state, presents a significant safety risk not only to the railway line but also the immediate vicinity.
"Only by working in close partnership with the relevant agencies and the local community can we reach an effective solution for everyone concerned - particularly those passengers, the local community and businesses directly affected."
Eileen Howat, South Ayrshire Council Chief Executive, added: "We very much welcome the input and support from the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to reduce the dangers presented by the Station Hotel building which we're actively working to address in line with our statutory obligations to keep people safe and to consider the longer-term options for the property.
"Our immediate priority continues to be doing what needs to be done to allow us to scale back the extended exclusion zone and for normal rail services to resume, which is what we all want. My thanks to all those affected for their co-operation during this current disruption, which has only been necessary to protect public safety."
Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance Managing Director, said: "Ayr station remains open for business and we are doing everything we can to get people to where they need to be. We are working closely with South Ayrshire Council, Transport Scotland and other partners to resolve this matter."
The task force's immediate focus identifying options to reduce the risk to public safety posed by the building and allow the return of full rail services. A number of options are being explored and the public can be assured more information will be made available before any final decision is made.
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.