Dumfries and Galloway’s Transport Summit has been hailed an ‘important step forward towards positive change for the regions roads and transport infrastructure’ by local MP Richard Arkless who added that the Scottish Government was ‘listening and ready to help’.
The summit, which was the first of its kind in Scotland, was hosted by Deputy First Minister John Swinney at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries on Monday. It made good the SNP manifesto commitment to hold a Transport Summit within 100 days from the election.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf chaired the event which gave elected representatives, transport professionals, business leaders and stakeholders an opportunity to discuss their concerns about road, rail and bus services in Dumfries and Galloway.
Commenting on the summit, Mr Arkless said:
‘I was delighted to see this important Transport Summit take place today in Dumfries -  it shows that Dumfries and Galloway’s infrastructure problems are being taken seriously by the Scottish Government and that they are keen to help.
‘Overall I found the discussions to be very constructive – there was clear consensus about what needs to be done.
He continued,
‘In an ideal world I would love nothing more than for the A75 to be duelled from Stranraer to Gretna – it is a route I travel frequently and it would be life changing for me and many other local people, however I accept the huge cost implications that such an upgrade would bring. Duelling the A75 should always be our goal but in the absence of such large amounts of money being available we should focus on improving certain sections of our trunk roads.
So beyond our ambition for full duelling, which I made clear will always be my ambition - I see four key priorities on our trunk roads.
1.         Springholm and Crocketford should be bypassed.  Studies have shown that over 80% of the traffic that goes through Springholm travels in excess of the speed limits and with many residents living less than a meter from the road, the noise can become very unbearable for people, particularly at night.  Last week I visited campaigners in Springholm to listen to their views prior to the summit going ahead - I was pleased to go back to them straight after the summit to tell them that Humza will meet with them in September to discuss their concerns with them in person. I made clear at the summit that the residents want average speed cameras as an immediate step, even before any plans are beefed out for a bypass.
2.         The stretch of the A75 between Auchenlarie Caravan Park and Laggan Outdoor Activity Centre.  We have successful businesses on this stretch of road who cannot get planning permission to expand and create dozens of jobs until a slipway has been built for safer access. If they fund the slipway themselves, there will be no funds for the job creating expansion.  It is not right for our local employers and visitor attractions to be held back by inadequate infrastructure just at a time when more and more people are visiting D&G. I was pleased to hear John Swinney give a personal commitment to look into this important issue on the A75. 
3.         Lower stretch of A77 north of Cairnryan. There are regular land slips and seemingly endless investigations on this road which causes it to be closed unexpectedly, meaning a 50 mile detour for constituents in Stranraer to head north.  The Transport Minister and Deputy First Minister both agreed that investigations into the cause of these landslips have gone on for too long and committed that they will be looking into this stretch of road personally. I reiterated that it is my belief that the only way to properly fix the problem it is a full reconstruction.
4.         Improving connectivity between Dumfries and the M74. It was well understood in the room that improving this important road link was key to unlocking the full economic potential of Dumfries and Galloway. The consensus seems to be that duelling the Lockerbie Road from Dumfries would be the best way to achieve this.
At the summit Mr Yousaf announced a review of the National Transport Strategy (NTS) which will set out transport policy across Scotland for the next 20 years. The review of the NTS will inform an update to the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) – reassessing recommendations for strategic transport infrastructure priorities in Dumfries & Galloway and for the rest of Scotland.
Mr Arkless added:
‘During the summit I made it clear to Humza and John that the transport infrastructure is the central issue for the people of Dumfries and Galloway – there has been a lack of investment in our roads for generations and now is the time to put that right. We suffer so many economic disadvantages in D&G and it's about time we were given a boost. I have so much belief in the potential of our region and firmly believe that upgrading our trunk roads will be a major step in unlocking that potential. And it's not just about journey time for car users. The New DGRI will bring the main hospital closer to Wigtownshire, improvements to the A75 could bring it closer still. 
‘I am following up the Summit with a trip to Glasgow today (Tuesday) to meet with Transport Scotland’s Director of Transport Infrastructure Michelle Rennie and Alison Irvine who is Head of Technical Analysis. I am determined to build on the momentum created at the Summit. 
‘I will also be writing to Humza and the Deputy First Minister to think them for coming and remind them of the issues they've committed to look at. I also hope to join the campaigners at Springholm when the Transport Minister comes to visit in September. I am absolutely determined that the Summit will be more than a 'talk shop'. Nothing happening from these types of conversations is my biggest annoyance in politics and I'm determined to make sure something real and positive comes from the Summit. I have received many submissions from constituents expressing their concerns about our trunk roads and I have passed them onto Transport Scotland and the Minister.
‘In terms of buses, the bus stakeholders explained their plans for their services over the next few years. With regards to rail travel, the extension of the Borders Railway to Dumfries was discussed along with a new line from Dumfries to Lockerbie. I was disappointed that a future rail line from Stranraer to Dumfries was not even mentioned but I will be raising it in my letter to the Minister and my meetings with Transport Scotland.
‘I look forward to the next step which will see a draft report on the outcomes of the summit published to enable the public to contribute to the debate and I will be keeping in touch with Humza and John to ensure that something tangible comes from today’s excellent meeting.’
I would encourage the public to feed into the process by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by emailing me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.