RAIL stations across Scotland are to be upgraded for 2014’s Year of Homecoming, Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in a £5.27 million programme announced yesterday by the Scottish Government.
Gleneagles will be among 56 stations improved, with refurbished toilets, waiting rooms and platforms in time for the world’s biggest golf tournament in September next year.
Other stations will get bigger car parks, train information screens, ticket machines, and new passenger and cycle shelters, including several in Glasgow.
The Scottish Government funding comes on top of £2m for Glasgow stations announced in February.
The improvements also come at a time of booming train travel, with ScotRail announcing last week a ninth consecutive year of growth in the year to last month.
The 83.3 million passengers total is one third higher than in 2004.
Transport minister Keith Brown told a rail conference in Edinburgh organised by public policy firm MacKay Hannah: “It is an astonishing achievement in times of recession”, and said there was still “potential for substantial growth”, especially in off-peak travel.
He said 2014 would be a “huge” year for Scotland because of the major sporting events and Homecoming celebrations.
In his stations funding announcement, made separately, Mr Brown said: “Our Year of Homecoming in 2014 will see the eyes of the world falling on Scotland for the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup and it’s only right that we ensure the gateways to those events are fitting for the arrival of the many thousands of visitors they will welcome.
“This announcement will help draw more and more people onto Scotland’s trains and off of our roads.”
Gleneagles’ 94-year-old station will receive £1.2m of improvements, with new lifts and a new car park and access road being funded separately.
Bathgate station’s 400-space car park will be extended by one third in a £850,000 project just three years after being opened as part of the re-opening of the line to Airdrie, which created a new east-west route.
A new car park at Irvine costing £650,000 will add up to 100 spaces to meet “high demand”.
The car park at Keith in Moray will be expanded with a new bus interchange in a £558,000 scheme to reduce parking on surrounding streets.
Other stations benefiting include Ladybank in Fife, where £250,000 will be spent on a new 48-space car park to ease pressure on space.
Glasgow stations being improved include Anniesland and Springburn.
The official passenger watchdog welcomed the “much-needed investment”.
Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Overall passenger satisfaction with stations in Scotland is generally high, but only about half of passengers we surveyed were happy with station facilities and services.
“Our research shows passenger satisfaction with stations increases when the money invested in improvements is targeted at the things that matter most to passengers.”
ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “Scotland’s railway will play a major part in creating a positive impression for those visiting Scotland next year.”
Network Rail route managing director for Scotland David Simpson, said: “Rail travel continues to grow in popularity across Scotland and we are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government to help deliver the programme of enhancements.”