By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Labour has been slammed for continuing to make false claims about rail station closures in Glasgow despite the fact, say the SNP, that they have been told repeatedly that no such plans exist.
The SNP said today that the continued scaremongering is letting down Scotland’s rail travellers and exposing Labour’s own lack of any positive contribution to make to the debate about the future of Scotland’s rail services.
The comments came after Labour’s infrastructure spokesman Richard Baker said the Rail 2014 consultation, which closed on Monday, “calls into question the future of 11 railway stations in and around the city”.
Mr Baker’s claims were also voiced by leader of Glasgow City council, Gordon Matheson, and local Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson.
Mr Baker claimed that transport minister Keith Brown had “refused to reject the proposition outright” and had “said there are no plans to close the stations”. Mr Baker added: “But of course, we remember in the last parliament his predecessor announcing that there were no plans to cancel the Glasgow Airport Rail Link project, and only a week later the SNP did exactly that.”
Mr Baker added that he would seek clarification that “as long as the minister is in office, none of these 11 stations will close”.
Mr Brown responded: “We have no plans to close these stations but we do have to listen to the consultation.”
The Scottish Government insist that it has already made it clear to Mr Baker that it was unable to comment on details until there had been time to consider the findings of the Rail 2014 consultation, however the purpose of the consultation document was to air all possible options in order to stimulate debate.
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said:
“How many times do Labour have to be told that there are no plans to close these stations before they stop spreading this nonsense? The Transport Minister has now gone on the record several times – including during a debate in Parliament just last month – to state that the Scottish Government has no plans and no intentions to close stations in Glasgow, or anywhere in Scotland for that matter, yet still Labour politicians continue to repeat the canard about closures. It is scaremongering of the most shameless kind.
“If Labour want to try to distract from their own lack of vision on the future of Scotland’s railways, they are going to have to try harder. The fact is that, throughout the period of the Rail 2014 consultation, they have not come up with a single positive or constructive suggestion about Scotland’s rail services.
“The Rail 2014 consultation is about getting the best rail service for Scotland. The SNP Government has asked the people of Scotland for their views on how they would like to see their rail service develop and improve, and it will listen and respond.”
Mr Dornan claimed that the SNP had an excellent record on rail and cited the Airdrie to Bathgate link as an example along with
“We have invested in services with 30,000 extra seats a day and 5 new stations, opened the Airdrie – Bathgate Rail Link, and added 38 new electric trains with 7,500 passenger seats a day to the Scottish rail network. Investment in rail infrastructure will be £426.1m this year, the highest since rail devolution.” he said before adding:
“The Rail 2014 consultation and the responses to it will enable the SNP to build on that record, and to move forward with our intention to improve Scotland’s rail network for the benefit of passengers and the Scottish economy. Labour’s desperate scaremongering will not deflect us from that aim.”
Conservative transport spokesperson Alex Johnson MSP also condemned the behaviour of the Labour MSP. During a debate on rail services in Glasgow on Thursday Mr Johnson described Mr Baker as “hysterical”.
Mr Dornan added:
“When even the Conservatives agree that you are behaving hysterically, it’s time to give up.
“Labour’s scaremongering about Glasgow’s railway station has gone beyond a joke. They have been told time and again – in Parliament, on the official record – that the Scottish Government has no intention of closing any station in Glasgow, or anywhere else in Scotland, yet still they persist in trying to mislead Glasgow’s rail passengers.
“If this is the best that Labour can come up with to try and revive their flagging fortunes in Glasgow, it’s no wonder that the city’s voters are deserting them in droves.”