Calls are being made for Scotland's next First Minister to support a campaign to re-open Cumnock and Mauchline's railway stations.

MSP Sharon Dowey wants the new leader to support plans to bring the stations back to life, following their closures in 1965, after opening in the 1800s.

Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan are currently battling it out to replace Nicola Sturgeon as party leader and First Minister.

READ MORE: Cumnock and DoonValley MSP casts vote in leader contest

This time last year, Cumnock and Mauchline's stations were included in proposals to expand Scotland's rail network with the creation of 51 new stations.

Railfuture Scotland mapped out the list of 51 stations to be opened or re-opened in a bid to attract the public back on trains.

Following this, a petition was launched to gain support for the stations to be re-opened.

The petition was jointly launched by Cumnock and New Cumnock councillor, Neill Watts and Ballochmyle councillor Alyson Simmons - both of the Conservative and Unionist Party.

READ MORE: Petition launched to reopen two former East Ayrshire railway stations

Over 1,200 have signed the petition so far.

Now Scottish Conservative MSP, Sharon Dowey, has said that the re-opening of these stations must be a top priority for the next First Minister.

Ms Dowey said she would lodge a question in the Scottish Parliament after the new leader is announced on March 27.

MSP Sharon Dowey said: “The election of a new SNP leader and First Minister offers a fresh opportunity for progress on the re-opening of Mauchline and Cumnock stations.

“This campaign is all about improving public transport links for residents, reducing accidents along the A76, and reaching net zero.

“It would bring a welcome boost to the local economy and bring extra visitors to our historic towns.

“The next SNP leader must listen to the campaign to get the re-opening of the Cumnock and Mauchline stations back on track, and I will be pushing for this to happen urgently.”

READ MORE: Mauchline man shares memories of station

Plans to re-open both stations were previously supported by the Scottish Green Party.

Cumnock and New Cumnock Cllr Neill Watts, who has played a key role in the push to re-open the stations, said: “When the Conservatives introduced a motion on the creation of a working group to support the re-opening of these stations, it was kicked into the long grass with a wider ranging amendment by SNP and Labour. 

“We need the new First Minister and the cabinet to listen to our campaign and act on it. This way, the SNP group may finally listen to our proposals to set up a working group on the stations and get us well on our way to re-opening them.

“Otherwise, the hundreds of thousands of passengers predicted to use the stations will continue to be denied the chance to do so”.