Report casts doubt on Reston Station project

CAMPAIGNERS calling for the reopening of Reston Station look to have a struggle on their hands after a feasibility report produced for Transport Scotland suggests that the costs will outweigh the benefits.

Three options were looked at by MVC Consultancy - a local rail service between Edinburgh and Newcastle, a service between Edinburgh and Berwick and an improved service to Dunbar that would include a new station at East Linton. And they concluded that the business case for all three was weak.

Operating a local rail service between Berwick and Edinburgh, including new stations at Reston and East Linton, would cost £3.2 million a year, but the report produced for Transport Scotland suggests that the costs outweigh the benefits from passenger demand, and improving services to Dunbar would produce the most cost effective results.

“The most viable option would be an infill station at East Linton,” reported MVC.

“The extension of the service to Berwick produced little additional patronage and the introduction of the new station at Reston produced a significant demand, however, this was outweighed by the additional costs of operating the extended service to Berwick.”

The consultants said a strong social inclusion case could be made for re-opening Reston Station, and journey times for travelling from Reston to Edinburgh would be cut from the current one hour 40 minutes by bus to 50 minutes on the train.

“There is no doubt that a new station at Reston would provide a step-change in accessibility for residents of the local settlements of Ayton, Chirnside, Coldingham, Duns and Eyemouth as well as the smaller villages of the area and Reston itself,” said MVC.

“However, aside from Reston this access would be via park and ride unless there is an equivalent step-change in the quality of local bus services and their connectivity to local settlements.”

The cost of re-opening Reston Station was estimated at £2.53 million and operating a local train service between Berwick and Edinburgh would be £3.2 million,

Rail Action Group East Scotland (RAGES) has campaigned long and hard for improved train services between Berwick and Edinburgh and said this week they are “at present digesting the contents of the report”.

Berwickshire MSP John Lamont has also championed the re-opening of Reston station and after reading the Transport Scotland report he said: “This study, commissioned by Transport Scotland, has been expected since the spring and considers a number of options for providing improved rail services between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

“These include restoring local rail services between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh, an option which would include the re-opening of stations at Reston and East Linton. The report does recognise that these stations would add value to any proposed local service, and it indicates that cost of re-opening the station would be around £2.5 million, a fraction of the money being spent on bringing rail services to Galashiels.

“Disappointingly, the report concludes that the costs of this new service would greatly outweigh the benefits, damaging the prospects of making progress on this issue.

“Up until now, the new Transport Minister has been reluctant to meet with representatives from RAGES and myself on the basis that the report had not yet been published.

“I believe there is a strong case for giving Berwickshire a rail connection at Reston. I will continue to work with RAGES to achieve this.”