Calls to halt Cleland’s ‘railroading’ plans

Network Rail's plans about how to go about the electrification of the Shotts line has met some opposition
Network Rail's plans about how to go about the electrification of the Shotts line has met some opposition

Concerns have been raised over proposals to use Cleland train station as a base while major works take place.

Network Rail has announced proposals to use the station as a base for three years as work takes place on the electrification of the Shotts line.

A recent meeting to discuss the proposals was attended by Network Rail, Motherwell and Wishaw candidate John Pentland, Murdostoun councillor Robert McKendrick and other community representatives.

However, Mr Pentland was left far from happy.

He said: “This was Network Rail presenting a fait accompli, railroading their plans through, and refusing to postpone them to permit a proper local consultation.

“We told them about the strong local concerns about existing heavy vehicle traffic and congestion, which is exacerbated by their antiquated low rail bridge, and which will only be made worse by the additional construction traffic.

“I pressed them on why they wanted to use Cleland as their depot and not any other location.

“They argued that it was about spending the public pound wisely - but what that appears to mean is Network Rail’s balance sheet, without any consideration of the wider costs to the community, and the additional threats to road safety that they will bring to the area.”

Councillor McKendrick added: “We are totally opposed to what they are planning, but it was clear that their minds were already made up.

“They weren’t here to listen and haven’t really looked at other sites in any detail.

“The road widening and lights don’t make up for the nuisance that the community will have to suffer, and if anything the three-way lights will add to the problems of congestion.”

North Lanarkshire Council has also expressed concern about ‘severely restricted visibility at the existing junction and the constraints of the road layout’ at Biggar Road.

A spokesman added: “In order to improve road safety at this existing junction, the council asked Network Rail to consider installing traffic signals and any associated accommodation works during their planned operations.

“Network Rail is currently dealing with the request and arranging for a traffic signal design to be submitted for consideration.”

A Network Rail spokesman insisted a final decision on the location of the yard had yet to be taken, although Cleland was the frontrunner.

He added: “The yard at Cleland offers the best potential for an efficient delivery of the electrification of the Shotts line.

“This is primarily because of its location next to the railway and the track layout adjacent to the yard.

“We have been working with roads officials at NLC to develop various options around this proposal and will take on board their comments and advice as we move forward.

“We have also committed to further discussion with the community.”