Going through to Glasgow for the SNP Conference let me sample another SNP Government achievement—the Airdire-Bathgate line. In theory opened in December, it’s only been running to timetable the last week or so—quarter-hourly to Bathgate, with half then running on through Airdrie and Glasgow to Helensburgh.
Though it worked fine, I must admit to disappointments. For a start, they’re using SPT stock, whose livery was designed by the colour-deaf and which offer nothing by way of tables, space or trolley service. Add in that it takes almost an hour and a half to get to Queen St (low level) as it stops at every lamppost between Blairhill and Belgrove.
But the major disappointment is that the journey refuses to be scenic—the stubby bings of West Lothian give way to the stubby hills of Lanarkshire and then suburbs of eastern Glasgow begging to be adverts for B&Q or weed-whackers. Along most of the track the bare embankments, praries of empty car parks and miles of galvanised fencing look neat but add zip to the experience. That West Lothian neds have already discovered this short-cut to the good criac and bevvy of Glasgow didn’t help either.
The arrival of the new Class 334 trains might boost the experience. I had argued that ScotRail should extend this line into the North Berwick service as these same trains are planned for here. That would have meant a true coast-to-coast from NB to Helensburgh.
As it was, I had to change at Partick to get to the SECC and so a 2-hour journey took me 3 hours. Next time, I’m afraid I’ll be back on the 45-minute Queen Street service and leave the views of the snow-flecked bings of Blackridge to the neds and their Buckie.