Little-used stations ‘should be closed’

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RAILWAY stations in Scotland used by few passengers should be closed, a leading business group has argued.

CBI Scotland said stations must justify their existence and “sacred cows” challenged.

The country’s ten least used stations clock up fewer than 300 passengers a year each. At some, no passengers get on or off nine in ten trains which stop.

The quietest, Barry Links near Carnoustie, handled just 90 passengers in 2009-10, while only 116 used Breich in West Lothian. Both were served by only two trains a day.

Network Rail has already highlighted that fare revenue from such stations does not even cover the cost of stopping trains.

CBI Scotland, responding to a consultation on the next ScotRail franchise from 2014, said leaner times “present opportunities to do things differently, to challenge sacred cows and ingrained habits”.

Policy executive Lauren McNicol said: “Stations are no different to any other item of public expenditure in that they must justify their existence.”

He added that it was hard to see how little-used stations could be justified when alternative public transport was available.

Rail campaigners said the CBI was “short-sighted” and “selfish”.

Doug Carmichael, chairman of the Friends of the West Highland Lines, which includes three of the ten least-used stations, said: “The fact many stations in the Highlands have only a small number of trains calling at them is all the more reason to keep them open.”