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Report recommends new local rail service

Cllr Michael Veitch, John Lamont, Paul Wheelhouse, Tom Thorburn, Barrie Forrest, EStran chair Russell Imrie, Iain Gray, Gordon Edgar, Jim Hume

Cllr Michael Veitch, John Lamont, Paul Wheelhouse, Tom Thorburn, Barrie Forrest, EStran chair Russell Imrie, Iain Gray, Gordon Edgar, Jim Hume

The study into Berwickshire’s rail services has highlighted the advantages of restructuring transport links in the region.

As well as opening stations at East Linton and Reston, the report published on Tuesday also recommends establishing a local rail service from Edinburgh to Dunbar and Berwick.

The report, partly commissioned by Scottish Borders Council, found that: “Overall there is a strong case for improved rail in east Berwickshire to assist in regeneration and the longterm sustainability of the area.”

In a covering letter from the three study commissioners to Keith Brown, Minister for Transport, they “hope there will be an opportunity to meet in due course to discuss the provision of a service to Dunbar and Berwick-upon-Tweed together with the two new stations during the next ScotRail franchise.”

It has already been reported that the service is a priced option in the recently published Invitation to Tender document for the next ScotRail franchise due to start in April 2015.

John Lamont, MSP, said at the launch: “This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of restoring a train service to the Berwickshire area.

“A lot of work has gone into it and I am delighted that we now have such a thorough argument to put forward.

“Not only would a train service reduce travel times to Berwick and Edinburgh, it would provide a welcome economic boost as more people move to the area.”

Fellow MSP Jim Hume added: “This collaborative report shows there’s an undoubted socio-economic and business case for train services at Reston, much more proven now than in 2011.

“Improving transport links is a must for the Borders, and crucial to all of the negotiations further down the line will be for timetables to reflect the travelling needs of the local population, particularly at commuting times, catering for tourists and in terms of joining up with long distance services.”

This report did not look into road-based options , as they had previously “been shown not to meet transport planning objectives.” However, analysis was made into making improvements to the bus service between Berwickshire and Edinburgh instead.

But the report finds the links would “simply not provide the step change in connectivity with Edinburgh which is required for the area to operate effectively and sustainably, particularly in terms of access to the Edinburgh employment market”.

MVA Consultancy was appointed by East Lothian Council, Scottish Borders Council and the South East Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran) in 2012 to look at the Edinburgh to Berwick service.

 

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