Published: 12th November 2016
Proposals for two new stations on the East Coast Main Line in Scotland appear to have been helped by an announcement of extra cash from the Scottish Government but there remains uncertainty.
The stations at East Linton, between Drem and Dunbar, and Reston, between Dunbar and Berwick, have been proposed for some years by campaigners, Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES), to serve towns whose stations closed in the 1960s.
But there is as yet no certainty that they will be built. If the stations go ahead, it is likely to be after 2019.
The Scottish Government’s agency Transport Scotland says that it is offering an unprecedented level of investment, up to 60 per cent of the total. This would supplement cash from other sources, including East Lothian Council for East Linton and Scottish Borders Council for Reston.
The relevant train operator would appear to be ScotRail but instead it could be TransPennine Express, at least for Reston. ScotRail already operates local trains between Edinburgh and Dunbar and it is proposed that during its franchise, TransPennine will extend the running of trains along the East Coast Main Line from Newcastle to Edinburgh.
Total costs of providing the two stations have been estimated at more than £22 million, with just over half of that being for East Linton. According to Transport Scotland, the amount from each council would be more than £1 million.
Humza Yousaf MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Transport and the Islands, said: “The Scottish Government has been a strong supporter of the delivery of Reston and East Linton stations and is keen to work with local authorities to deliver rail infrastructure to meet the needs of their local communities.”
Mr Yousaf went on to explain: “Currently, we fund new stations via the Scottish Stations Fund with central government funding limited to 50 per cent; the balance being matched by contributions from promoters, whether local authorities or private developers.
“Recognising the budgetary pressures facing all parties concerned, I have written to both local authorities outlining my two potential solutions to the current funding shortfall.
“My first option seeks to address the shortfall by increasing the central government contribution to an unprecedented 60 per cent, the second by incorporating the stations within a larger programme of works.
“The second option would see the stations’ construction form part of a programme of works within the next Network Rail delivery period, which broadly aims to improve capacity to the east of Edinburgh. In this second option, the councils are not being required to increase the level of funding above that which they have stated is their limit.
“In both instances, I would also be seeking a long-term commitment from each council in respect of improved connectivity. For example, by ensuring appropriate bus services to the station from outlying communities and the provision of suitable interchange facilities to maximise the wider economic and social value of the stations.
“I am pleased to be able to offer these unprecedented solutions to allow the construction of these stations to progress. I’ve advised the councils that I’m happy to accept either option. The ball is now in the councils’ court and I look forward, in due course, to hear how they wish to proceed.”
Proposals to expand capacity in the Edinburgh area in the next Network Rail delivery period (CP6, the five years from 2019) could potentially include works such as platform development at Waverley station, improvements to Portobello junction and electrification of the Edinburgh South Suburban line, which is mainly used by freight but is also available as a diversionary route for passenger trains bypassing central Edinburgh.
Ten Scotrail stations now boast ToGo Coffee Houses and WHSmith kiosks as part of a million pound investment by WHSmith and the ScotRail Alliance. They are located at Aberdeen, Aviemore, Ayr, Glasgow Charing Cross, Dundee, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, Motherwell, Paisley Gilmour Street and Stirling stations.
These new facilities will provide a range of hot and cold drinks, bakery goods, snacks, confectionery, newspapers and convenience products.
Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf said: “The ScotRail franchise sets out a commitment to deliver these retail outlets at key stations.
“This is a first for ScotRail and they have worked in partnership with WHSmith and the Coffee House to bring retail outlets and coffee house at stations such as Aberdeen and Stirling.
“These small but welcome improvements provide the potential to enhance passenger experiences by enabling customers to purchase hot and cold beverages, snacks, bakery goods, snacks, confectionary, papers at stations before boarding a train or alighting on way to work.”
Customer Experience Director at ScotRail, Jacqueline Taggart said: “It’s great to see new retail outlets at so many stations. Whether people are travelling for business or leisure, there’s a fantastic range of products for all.
“The new outlets also mean customers at these stations will receive complimentary refreshments during times of severe disruption.”
Several factors were considered when selecting which stations to introduce the facilities; including footfall and the impact of major events.
The old idea of football specials has been revived by ScotRail for a new era. The company is to run a “Dons Express” for Aberdeen football fans, whose club is known as “The Dons”.
The train will operate on Sunday 27 November from Aberdeen at 10.05, due in Glasgow Queen Street at 12.32. The return at 18.45 is due back in Aberdeen at 22.19 hours.
Fans heading for the Scottish Cup Final on Sunday 27 November are warned that normal scheduled trains are likely to be busy.
Seats are limited on this ‘footex’ but rail tickets can be purchased on redspottedhanky.com as well for all scheduled services.