Time to get a Lanark rail link to Edinburgh back on track

Happy New Year! But is there much to look forward to? We discussed this last time and my views have not changed.

One other look to the future is the revived campaign to reopen a direct rail link between Lanark and Edinburgh. This has been talked about for a long time and support seems to have been there.

The restoration of the Borders Railway last summer seems to have given the idea of the link a new lease of life. The Community Council have set up a Facebook site on Sunday 10th January 2016, and it would appear there is a great deal of support for it.

That is one thing. However. I remember reading about marketing and how to do it. Someone had decided it would be good to open up a CD and DVD shop in an island in the North West of Scotland. He decided to do some research and asked if the population of the island thought it was a good idea to open such a shop. The results were good and he proceeded in his venture. After a year he was struggling to stay in business and he finally asked an old friend where he had gone wrong.

“You should have asked: "If I opened such a shop would you use it?” The answer may have been more revealing."

The Community Council has a lot to do to get this moving. None of the members seem to have any expertise in such matters, and will need to use all their collective knowledge to analyse the whole concept impartially and practically. Their recent performance organising the Remembrance Service shows a lack of consultation with others, and hopefully the lesson has been learned.

Lanarkians are full of opinions about what we need with little concept as to why they never happen.

Lanark could do with a good quality bookshop and a greengrocer like they have in Biggar. Lanark should also have an antique shop for tourists. All of these ventures require investment and clever research to see if they will make money. Their absence tells it all.

We have good quality shops in Lanark, but we need more to make it a shopping attraction.

Good efforts have been made over the last couple of years to try to get some momentum going, yet our reliance on road transport just does not work. Our roads department still do not realise just how vital communications with the town are for the well-being of our Burgh.

The ironic thing is the Council now wishing to charge the community to close the roads on Lanimer Day. It would be good if the Community Council had the ability to charge the Council every time they imposed street closures for their road works! If the money went back into the local economy it might make them think a bit harder as to when to hit the local traders!

The rail link to Edinburgh requires the same scrutiny. Personally I think it could work, but it would need a lot of work to obtain that evidence! If enough passengers would use it, it would tick a box. The links to Lanark bus stance would open up transport to New Lanark, the Clyde Valley, Biggar and Abington! Plenty of winners there.

It would cut down on people having to drive to Edinburgh. Carbon footprints and their reduction is popular at the moment! Local shops would also receive a boost; and the quirky shops mentioned earlier may become a reality!

Housing for Edinburgh commuters would be enhanced, and what a boost for our Lanimer Week celebrations as a new centre of population suddenly can have easy access to the centre of our Royal Burgh!

The downsides are also considerable. How can we get round the huge cost of relinking the line? Where can we find parking for the cars that would be attracted to the Lanark terminus?

I am optimistic about all of this. If there is a will there is a way! There is a Scottish election on the horizon and what a great offer to open yet another connection from a Royal Burgh in the West of Scotland to its capital. If it is affordable, and I believe it is, now is the time to give it a go!

Ralph Barker has fought for improved links to Edinburgh, and writes in the Gazette about the problems at Carstairs Junction due to the success of trains now stopping there. He informs us that the Council have earmarked a site close to the station that will hold initially 22 cars!

In the past when people have pointed out that you can now pick up a train to Edinburgh form Carluke or Carstairs Junction, you could see this as a good reason not to bother. Yet try to do this if you do not have a car, and wish to rely on public transport! Someone in Biggar or Forth trying to take a bus to Carstairs Junction would experience a horrendous journey! Yet both these communities have buses that stop at Lanark station. I suppose going by train to Carluke would be the solution, and swapping there, but that does not benefit Lanark for visitors coming from Edinburgh. Today buses operate to make a profit, not as a social service.

I am convinced there are experts out there who could pass their knowledge on so we would know exactly where we stand on this. In the meantime follow the Facebook site set up to discuss and debate the idea.

Talk is good, but we also need action now to see if we have the momentum to push this forward!

I hope and pray the Community Council has the support of the community, and the strength of their convictions to get something we deserve. Good luck!