ScotRail have pledged improvements to train services between Largs and Glasgow after a surge in passenger numbers.

The rail operator says the number of people using Largs railway station has grown by more than 30 per cent since May of last year - more than any other station in Ayrshire.

The busiest morning commuter service from Largs to Glasgow Central will be speeded up when the new ScotRail timetable comes into effect at the beginning of June.

The commitment comes from Scott Prentice, ScotRail's head of business development, after he met members of Largs Community Council (LCC) at a meeting last month.

In a letter to LCC members, Mr Prentice says the company will work towards making further improvements to Largs services in future.

In the current timetable, the busiest morning commuter train from Largs, leaving at 7.23am, currently calls at all stops to Glengarnock, and then at Milliken Park, Johnstone and Paisley Gilmour Street, and is due to reach Glasgow Central at 8.27am.

An online timetable search reveals that from Monday, June 3, the first weekday of the new timetable, that service will depart Largs five minutes later, at 7.28am, making the same stops as at present but still arriving in Glasgow at 8.27am.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: ScotRail Head of Business Development, Scott PrenticeScotRail Head of Business Development, Scott Prentice (Image: Newsquest)

In his letter to LCC members following last month's meeting, Mr Prentice said: “Complaints on the longer journey time to Glasgow were very clearly presented during the meeting.

“The busiest morning commuter service will have a faster journey time from the June timetable change, and ScotRail will continue work to make further improvements to the timetable. 

“At the meeting I advised that Largs was a destination, as well as a place where journeys originated from, and that trains calling at more stations made it easier for those working or travelling for leisure to get to Largs.

“It is these inward journeys which have grown over the last year.

"Throughout the year there are around 14,500 journeys every four weeks which start in Largs.

"In the winter there are around 9,500 journeys every four weeks to Largs. This increases to more than 24,000 journeys every four weeks in the summer."

ScotRail explained that they had planned to publish their response to a consultation on future timetables in early March.

However, Mr Prentice said: “Unfortunately South Ayrshire Council have encountered further problems in making the former Ayr Station Hotel building safe.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

"We are waiting on a better estimate of when trains will be able to operate to and from the station before publishing the response. This should be within the next week or two.

"Whilst the exclusion zone at the station doesn’t impact the Largs timetable, it does mean we are operating some services with fewer carriages than desired."

The number of carriages operating on Largs trains has been constrained since late September by the exclusion zone around the former Ayr Station Hotel, which was badly damaged in a devastating fire.

The exclusion zone prevents ScotRail trains accessing the depot facility at Townhead, to the south of Ayr station.

Without this depot, ScotRail says, there isn’t physically enough space to stable all of the trains it needs to operate services in Ayrshire.

Mr Prentice added: “As soon as ScotRail can safely access Ayr Townhead depot, we will  be able to reinstate the planned number of carriages to each service.”

Community councillor Jamie Black, who has made frequent calls for improvements on the Largs line, said: "The improvement to the journey times for the commuter service and more improvements to follow is very encouraging.

"There is plenty of scope to improve further but it's a move in the right direction and hopefully we can continue to work with ScotRail to identify further improvements."