Campaign to bring steam train trips to Stranraer

A campaign to make Stranraer a key tourism destination for steam train trips is stepped up as the first steam train pulls into it's station since the 1960s.

The Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce believes there is a valuable opportunity for Stranraer created by heritage rail excursions and rail-based tourism. It's calling for existing rail and port infrastructure at Stranraer to be used to develop sustainable tourism following Stena's relocation to a new port in November 2012.

First steam train at Stranraer since the 60s Credit: ITV Border

Peter Jeal is the president of the Wigtownshire Chamber of Commerce he explained to our report Matthew Taylor why the steam train came to Straraer and how its important to the area that heritage rail tours come to Straraer:

The Chamber wants to see the railway and pier at Stranraer used to bring tourists into the area creating an environmentally sustainable future for West Galloway tourism amid fears that rising fuel prices will see a decline in car usage in years to come.

They say that the railway alone has the potential to bring more than £10m in tourism spend directly into the local economy including the Machars/Mid-Galloway area and the wider Rhins area. But it says this will only happen if it is developed as a destination for rail tours.

The Chamber is also keen to see the development of Stranraer as a port of call for small cruise ships which could also bring thousands of visitors to the area annually in an effort to support existing local businesses across Wigtownshire. Loch Ryan is too shallow to berth large cruise ships but, the Chamber is keen to explore the possibility of larger vessels visiting locations such as the Isle of Whithorn where they could anchor offshore in deeper waters with passengers transferred to shore by transfer vessels. This already happens at several locations in Scotland.

They estimate that where passengers on heritage trains spend a few hours in the area, the value to the local economy from just one train can amount to around £10,000 in direct spend to local businesses and nearly twice that with the multiplier effect. The overall benefit to the local economy of a developed tourism railway could be worth an estimated £7.7m annually to the Wigtownshire economy