Progress ‘imminent’ on station reopening

Barrie Forrest at the site of the old Reston Station.
Barrie Forrest at the site of the old Reston Station.

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker says he is hopeful there will be a positive announcement within weeks on funding to secure the reopening of Reston railway station in Berwickshire.

His optimism about the much-vaunted project, costed at £10.8m, is based on last week’s decision by the council’s executive to make an early repayment of £7.7m to Transport Scotland in full settlement of the council’s cash contribution to the Borders Railway.

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker.

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker.

Leaderdale and Melrose councillor Mr Parker said his council had already committed £2.8m towards the capital cost of reopening Reston station, closed in 1964, with Transport Scotland being required to fund the balance.

“Obviously, it will be up to Transport Scotland to determine how to use the £7.7m we want to return to them,” he told the Berwickshire News.

“If they agree to receive that early payment, which will save the council £4.3m in future inflation costs, I hope it will positively inform the discussions we are having with Transport Scotland about the reopening of the station at Reston and have a beneficial impact on making it a reality.

“Very good progress has been made to secure that reopening in our ongoing dialogue with Transport Scotland, who will, I suspect, be happy to receive our repayment, which gives them an early lump sum.

The site of the old Reston Station.

The site of the old Reston Station.

“We will be stressing that we would like that money to be invested in this region in our talks in our ongoing talks.

“I hope that, within a month, there will be a positive announcement around work at Reston”.

The station was closed in 1964 as part of former British Railways chairman Richard Beeching’s large-scale cutbacks of that time.

Its long-awaited reopening was scheduled for last December but that has now been pushed back to 2018 or 2019.

That hold-up has been blamed on a gap in funding.

Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES) has been campaigning for over 17 years to get Reston station, along with East Linton station in East Lothian, back up and running.

Group vice-chairman Barrie Forrest said: “Tom Thorburn, chairman of RAGES, and myself had a very productive meeting last December with David Parker.

“We are now going to meet with the transport minister, Humza Yousaf, in early February and take it from there.

“It is, of course, good news for now, and we are hopeful that we get the news that it can reopen.

“For years, we have been told the station will open up again soon, and we were even told in 2016 that there would be trains stopping at this station in December, and that was not the case.

“People have been waiting too long for this, and it’s high time the people of Reston and East Linton have access to trains.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is a strong supporter of the delivery of Reston station and is keen to work with the local authority to deliver rail infrastructure to meet the needs of the local community.

“We have written to the local authority outlining potential solutions to the current funding shortfall and await a response on which option it would like to take forward.”