New community rail partnership commits to Stranraer steam

By Hugh Dougherty

The new South West Scotland Community Rail Partnership has confirmed that it is committed to safeguarding railway heritage on the lines it covers, from Gretna to Stranraer, via Kilmarnock and Troon – and that steam to Stranraer is firmly on its agenda.

The partnership, launched at Kilmarnock’s historic station on September 11, has appointed a part-time development officer to take projects forward.

Development manager, Dr Belle Doyle, under the Glasgow & South Western Railway canopy at Kilmarnock station. HUGH DOUGHERTY

Dr Belle Doyle brings extensive local project knowledge and experience to the post, especially as she is a former film location officer with Dumfries and Galloway Council.

“I am very much aware of the heritage of the lines in our area,” said Belle.

“We are committed to working with ScotRail, all communities, tourism and railway heritage bodies, to improve our local rail services and promoting the existing outstanding railway heritage along the routes is an integral part of that task.”

Partnership director, Peter Jeal, said: “We have a particular interest in the Stranraer line, which has been designated as a Great Scenic Railway by ScotRail. The former partnership body, the Stranraer Ayr Line Support Group, SALYSA, which we have replaced, laid the foundations for appreciating and conserving the heritage potential of the route.

“We want to see the harbour station at Stranraer developed as a heritage railway terminus with facilities for visiting steam locomotives on what, we hope, will become regular steam operations between the former ferry port and the holiday towns of Ayr and Girvan. We are also very much aware of the tourism potential of the Ayrshire Railway Preservation Society at Dunaskin.”

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