A local Edinburgh to Newcastle rail service

A view of Berwick Upon Tweed from the East Coast mainline
A view of Berwick Upon Tweed from the East Coast mainline

The success of the Borders Railway in driving economic development could be repeated in Berwickshire if a local rail service is introduced.

That is the view of Councillor Mark Rowley, executive member for business and economic development at Scottish Borders Council.

Speaking at a rail connectivity event in Berwick, organised by the Berwick Regeneration Commission, Councillor Rowley said: “The Waverley line has made a huge difference to places like Galashiels and we’re lobbying for an extension to Hawick.

“While the reopening of Reston – and additional services to Berwick on the back of that – is not going to be on the same scale it will have a positive economic impact.

“We are continuing to push the Scottish transport minister to give us a real date for when Reston is going to get that station. We need the minister to confirm a two-year window so we can actually start planning for the housing, infrastructure and services to support it.”

A capacity study on the route is currently being carried out, with the outcome expected in April or May. And a new study of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between Berwick and Newcastle suggests there is also capacity to increase train service levels.

The significant social and economic benefits of an improved local rail service between Newcastle and Edinburgh were outlined and campaigners from both sides of the border pressed the case for better connectivity such as later trains from Edinburgh to Berwick.

South East Northumberland Rail Users’ Group is campaigning for rural stations to be reopened on the east coast line and chairman Dennis Fancett said: “We need a local service and, on the English side, that means extending the Newcastle to Morpeth service on to Berwick at least hourly during the day.

“We want it to stop at all the stations along the route and then we want new stations opened, particularly Belford and Beal but also possibly Warkworth to serve the Amble area.

“It would enable rail access into Berwick from elsewhere in Northumberland and a parallel service from Edinburgh to Berwick would bring people into the town from the Scottish Borders. We believe there could be a significant economic boost for Berwick.”