FOLLOWINg the second visit by a Transport Minister in four years to assess the need for a staion at Reston, local poltiicians have said it’s about time the project was put firmly on track.
Although he told ‘The Berwickshire News’ he wasn’t able to make any firm commitment to the re-opening of the station, Keith Brown was full of praise for RAGES’s long-running campaign to bring rail services to the eastern Berwickshire when he arrived in the area on Tuesday.
The campaign has been a long one for the Rail Action Group East of Scotland and having been filled with optimism following a visit from former minister Stuart Stevenson in 2008, they have been left frustrated by a lack of progress in the project.
One of the key assurances made by Mr Stevenson was that there wouldn’t be a need for a second study to be carried out in respect of opening stations at East Linton and Reston, but a few years down the line it has been decided that one is indeed required.
RAGES are keen for this to be conducted as soon as possible and grasped the opportunity to state their case to Mr Brown with both hands.
After being given a tour of the proposed station site, with guidance on where a new road and parking facilities would go, the man himself was left impressed by RAGES commitment to the cause, adding that he felt it important that the Government listened to communities who were prepared to make such an effort.
“The point of me coming down today (Tuesday) was to see whether there is a case for the re-opening of Reston station,” he explained.
“There’s been a lot of hard work down already and I understand that the new Borders Railway, starting in Galashiels isn’t just ‘down the road’ for the people of Berwickshire and they are frustrated that money isn’t being spent on improving things for them.
“It’s the case in many parts of Scotland that when areas see millions elsewhere, like with the Borders Railway, they think what about us?
“Budgets are extremely constrained and that is one of the reasons why I can’t make a commitment to the project today.
“I am very impressed with the commitment shown by RAGES and it’s great for communities to have people who care so passionately about making things better.”
One of those who has shouted loudest about Reston station in previous years is Barry Forrest who told Mr Brown that Reston was “the perfect place for a station,” while East Berwickshire Councillor Jim Fullarton said it was “vital” for the area that the station - which the Transport Minister said had a subidy of around £2.5 million - was finally given the go ahead.
Also present for Tuesday’s discussions with Keith Brown was Berwickshire MSP John Lamont, who commented: “The latest visit by the Transport Minister means that he has now seen how bad the situation is and how eager the local community is to see investment in our transport network.
“A station in Reston could serve around 10,000 people and it was great that the Minister has now heard some of those voices.
“I was eager to stress the point that the time for surveys and reports is over. It is now about time the Scottish Government stood up and took some action and gave this project the political backing it needs to move forward.
“This project has already been delayed for far too long. It is time for the stalling to stop and for decisive action to be taken to move this project forward.”
South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse added: “It was crucial to make sure the Minister was able to see first-hand the communities that would benefit from the stations and who want to see their towns and villages reopened for business.
“Rail investment would provide an opportunity for residents to access a wider range of employment opportunities, businesses to access clients, students to access courses and in the opposite direction, it would open up the area for tourism growth in Berwickshire.