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Meeting with the Minister for Transport
In November 2016, the Minister for Transport had
offered two options as a way to progress the re-building of the two
stations at East Linton and Reston.
After due consideration, the councils agreed to accept option 2 which would see the stations’ construction form part of a programme of works within the next Network Rail delivery period (CP6 from April 2019 to April 2024), which broadly aims to improve capacity to the east of Edinburgh. In addition, the councils would not be required to increase the level of funding above that which they had stated was their limit. Also the construction responsibility would transfer from the councils to Transport Scotland and Network Rail.
On 8th February 2017, RAGES Committee members, Tom Thorburn and Barrie Forrest, met Humza Yousaf MSP and Transport Scotland representatives, Rose Tweedale and Gordon McLeod. They were accompanied by Councillor Michael Veitch and Jim Lamond of East Lothian Council and Graeme Johnston of Scottish Borders Council.
Tom Thorburn noted that the two stations are now being delayed to some date between 2019 and 2021, which is up to five years later than Keith Brown MSP’s letter of October 2014. How can the good people of these community's faith in this house and Buchanan House be restored?
The Minister invited the Council representatives to give an account of their views on option 2. The general consensus was that given the tight budgetary position of local authorities the Councils were happy to move the stations into option 2 as there was no way that they could make up the balance required to construct the Stations.
RAGES appealed to the Minister to give assurance that the station construction will commence in January 2019 and that due process would be carried out with the ORR to ensure that paths for an hourly service would be available and protected as we were extremely disappointed that we were now not going to see the stations built until some point in CP6, but accepted that we were where we were given the contracting budgets.
Given that the stations are simple 2 off 4 car platform stations, the point was pressed that construction time should be quick – in the order of less than a year such that we can see them opened as soon as possible in CP6.
Tom Thorburn asked the Minister to give a date some time in 2020 for the stations to open but he would not commit to a definitive date but promised he would look into this.
After more pressing discussion regarding Network Rail’s programme of work in south east Scotland, the Minister promised that our stations would be the priority. Barrie enquired if Network Rail would be starting to carry out survey work to enable plans to be submitted for car parks and access roads in March and April this year – the Minister was unsure of this, but Transport Scotland informed the meeting that discussions were already underway between themselves and Network Rail on CP6 work.
The Minister then confirmed that all parties including RAGES would be invited to high level meeting with Network Rail sometime in March.
RAGES then invited the Minister to attend an April meeting in Reston Community Hall. He declared his acceptance, but noted that he would have to take advice given the close proximity of the local elections in May.
In conclusion, Tom Thorburn said that at the
meeting the Minister was attentive to our desperate requirement for our
stations. All we need now is for him to positively follow up on the
assurances he gave RAGES.