Frustration creeping in at slow progress on reopening stations

Train tracks passing Reston on the East Coast Mainline
Train tracks passing Reston on the East Coast Mainline

An acceptable business plan for reopening Reston and East Linton railway stations is the final ingredient needed to make that hope a reality, campaigners have been told.

Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf said recently: “I remain committed to this project and will provide 50% of the construction cost of each station if the promoters – SEStran, Scottish Borders Council and East Lothian Council – decide to proceed with the stations.

“This, of course, is subject to a suitable business case being provided.”

However, RAGES (Rail Action Group East of Scotland) and South of Scotland MSP Rachel Hamilton are frustrated at what they see as a lack of commitment by the Scottish Government.

Both councils have indicated their desire to proceed with the stations.

East Lothian Council has committed £3.44m and Scottish Borders Council £2.84m to the project in the hope that the Scottish Government will provide the rest of the required funding.

After receiving Mr Yousaf’s reply to a request for Government update, RAGES chairman Tom Thorburn said: “I am disappointed in the Scottish Government’s approach to all of this situation.

“Non-green road projects such as a link road between the A82 and A9 in Inverness are fully funded by Transport Scotland, yet our strategically important stations are being denied for a shortage of £3m each, which is totally bizarre.

“We are expected to take Edinburgh housing overflow as they have no more space other than green-belt areas, yet on the other hand no provision is being made for these people who settle in our area to get back into Edinburgh for their work.”

Ms Hamilton added: “‘East Lothian and the Scottish Borders need these stations reopened. An unprecedented number of new housing is coming to the are,a and we need strong reliable infrastructure in order to cope with the new demand that will be placed on our transport systems.

“We have daily reports that our current services cannot manage current demand. How on earth is the area supposed to manage future demand with no help from the Scottish Government?

“We need to see the reintroduction of East Linton and East Reston stations as a matter of urgency and priority.”

Mr Yousaf added: “My agreement to fund 50% of the stations is a significant contribution in times of constrained budgets and escalating costs.

“I can also confirm that I remain committed to providing the Edinburgh-to-Berwick services which would call at the new stations, subject to completion of the stations and the granting of the necessary track access rights.”