IRVINE would be one of the towns to benefit from plans to establish a direct rail link to Edinburgh.

That’s the view of a lobby group campaigning for improvements to the rail network in the West of Scotland after giving a presentation at the most recent meeting of Irvine Community Council.

At the meeting last Wednesday (May 7), Ian Richard and Roddy McDougall from RailQwest put forward their aims to electrify Glasgow’s Crossrail line.

Currently, passengers travelling to Edinburgh by rail from the Ayr route have to transfer from Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street.

A new direct service to Edinburgh from Ayr will be introduced later this month - read more in this week’s page 14 - but the RailQwest lobbyists insist it has been poorly implemented.

RailQwest say that electrifying the Crossrail line between Shields Road Station (before Glasgow Central) and the Edinburgh side of Queen Street would allow trains departing from Irvine, Kilwinning and other stations on the line to bypass the two Glasgow city centre stations and continue directly to Coatbridge, Airdrie, Bathgate, Livingston and Edinburgh.

The group have met with various bodies and organisations including Transport Scotland, Network Rail and local authorities including North Ayrshire Council where they have valued that the estimated cost of the project would be £20m.

Both Ian and Roddy were appealing to the Community Council for support with one of the community councillors describing their plans as a “no brainer”.

RailQwest secretary Ian Richard said at the meeting: “We’ve met with a lot of groups and bodies in the hope of gaining their support to push on with seeing the Crossrail line at Shields Road electrified.

“Simply put, if you got on the train at Irvine going to Edinburgh then no longer would you have to get off at Central Station, walk up to Queen Street and jump on another train.

“The electric trains that run from Helensburgh to Edinburgh have to be serviced. That depot is at Shields Road just past Ibrox – you can see it from the right-hand side of the train as you get the train into Glasgow.

“If this line was electrified, it would allow trains to go from Paisley to Shields Road, from there through the Southside and the Gorbals – along this Crossrail line – to then join up with the line outside Queen Street low level and onto Edinburgh.

“You wouldn’t have to cross Glasgow for one train to the next – you’d be on one journey.”