The Scottish Government stands accused of “purposely delaying” plans to re-open Reston and East Linton stations on the main east coast railway line.
During a general question time in the Scottish Parliament, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, John Lamont told the Transport Minister that campaigners now believed the project was being sidelined because it wasn’t considered a priority compared to other plans.
Mr Lamont went on to demand an assurance from the minister, Humza Yousaf, that the Scottish Government is committed to the project. It has already be subject to a number of delays, despite the former Transport Minister announcing in November 2014, that trains would be stopping at Reston and East Linton by December 2016.
Responding to Mr Lamont’s demands, Mr Yousaf said he was still considering the council’s latest funding offer, and that there was “still a gap which needed bridged in terms of funding”.
Afterwards, Mr Lamont said: “Local residents are rightly frustrated at the lack of progress on the reopening of Reston Station. We’ve had a lot of warm words from the Government, but the delays keep coming. It now appears that one of the main reasons this project isn’t getting off the ground is because the Scottish Government transport agency doesn’t deem it a priority.
“My concerns have not been put to rest by the Transport Minister’s response and I remain to be convinced he is giving this the priority it deserves.
“Campaigners have been working tirelessly to get a local train service for Berwickshire and it is now beyond doubt that the re-opening of Reston station would provide a huge boost to the local economy. With so much money found to improve transport links to other parts of Scotland, many are left wondering why it is taking so long to open two stations.”
Research by independent campaign organisation Railfuture Scotland suggests that a re-opened Reston Station would be used by at least 20,000 passengers a year.
Tom Thornburn, chairman of Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES) said: “Everyone involved in this campaign is becoming increasingly disillusioned at the time it is taking to get Reston and East Linton stations open.
“Unfortunately, we have also recently heard that Transport Scotland is less than committed to the plans. The Scottish Government needs to get a move on and stop the constant delays.”
“When we see vast amounts of investment being set aside for transport and road projects elsewhere in Scotland it is very frustrating that Reston and East Linton don’t seem to be a priority for Transport Scotland.”