TRANSPORT Minister Keith Brown visited Motherwell on Monday to officially confirm Airbles Station is to remain open.
He said: “I can confirm what I’ve said all along that Airbles Station will not be closing, we have no plans for closure, we have no intention for closure and it will not be closing.
“I am happy to reassure people who may have heard otherwise from other people that it has never been in our plans to close. Since 2007 we have expanded the rail network and you don’t do that by closing stations.”
Fears had been raised about the future of the station by local Labour politicians after Airbles appeared on a factsheet attached to Transport Scotland’s Rail 2014 consultation document which listed 14 stations and their nearest alternative less than a mile away on the same line.
However, Mr Brown refused to accept this should have been the basis to presume this meant the station was under threat.
He said: “I can’t even understand why anyone would have thought Airbles might close.
“At one of our public events someone asked for information on specific stations and Transport Scotland in response provided that information, so it was never any part of the document we issued.
“Other people used it to manufacture scare stories and I said repeatedly throughout he consultation we had no plans to close the station and that has been borne out now.”
Mr Brown was met by Central Scotland list MSPs Clare Adamson and Richard Lyle and Motherwell West councillor Annette Valentine.
Mrs Adamson said: “I think the Labour campaign was highly irresponsible and caused a lot of upset in the area. It’s really sad they took an addendum to the consultation and dug up this level of concern when they could just have listened to what the minister said months ago and people would have been reassured.”
Councillor Valentine said: “I’m absolutely delighted, but I knew it wasn’t going to close, it was never under any threat. I think that the Labour party shouldn’t judge others by their standards.”
Motherwell West councillor Paul Kelly, who along with Motherwell and Wishaw Constituency Labour Party chairman Gary O’Rorke launched a petition against the threat of closure, called the announcement a victory for ‘people power’.
He said: “Every week on the doorsteps and through the hundreds of local residents who signed the petition, there was a loud, clear message that the local community were strongly against this closure.
“Thanks to a community led campaign and the Motherwell Times, people power has saved our station.”
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland accused the minister of trying to save face by claiming he had no plans to close Airbles in the first place.
He said: “The minister personally visited Motherwell to withdraw the threat to Airbles and that is a measure of the pressure he was under.
“He is still trying to save face by saying he had no plans to close any stations. Suggesting it in a consultation may not amount to a plan in his book, but when he wouldn’t rule it out, people knew it was a serious possibility.”