Class 380 EMU at Drem on its first day
Rail Action Group East of Scotland
RAGES

Contents

Aims of RAGES

To improve the rail service between Edinburgh, Dunbar and Berwick upon Tweed.

To have East Linton and Reston stations re-opened for active use.

To improve the level of service to North Berwick.

To re-open the branch line from Longniddry to Haddington.

To consider the implications with regard to car parking and bicycle storage at stations between Waverley and Berwick upon Tweed.

To keep under scrutiny the standards of passenger facilities at stations between Waverley and Berwick, including North Berwick, and to draw the attention of the relevant bodies to shortcomings which arise.

The group, being environmentally minded, will actively strive to encourage rail travel within its geographical area.

 

Message from our Committee

By now our members will have received the spring edition of our RAGES newsletter (The Rages Rag).

As the Rag was produced before the government took action because of the Coronavirus threat, there was no opportunity to edit it to include an article on safe practices and how to stay healthy during these uncertain times.

As a committee, we would like to wish all our members and families best wishes whilst the virus is being dealt with and urge everyone to adhere to Government and NHS advice.

Further information about the virus and what precautions to take can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Avoid any unnecessary travel and stay at home.

Please consider any at risk or elderly residents that may live close to you and what support that they may require.

We thank for your continued support.

Stay safe and healthy at home.

Rages Committee.

Work Starting at East Linton and Reston

Residents of the two villages received letters from Network Rail Scotland advising them of survey work and site investigation activity on railway land in their neighbourhood.

The survey work has been completed in support of the two station design submissions which is meant to be completed in early spring 2020.

An application has been lodged with Scottish Borders Council.   It has been prepared by the Network Rail Town Planning Team in support of a request to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to adopt a screening opinion with respect to whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required for the following proposal for the development:
"Proposed development of rail station platforms, waiting shelters, car parking, footbridge and lifts with associated access, servicing and landscaping at Land to the South of Reston Main Street, Reston".

The application can be viewed at the SBC web site on this link.

As with the new platform at Dunbar, our photographer, Tom Dickson, will be visiting the sites to record progress as it happens.

As well as information about what is happening on the East Linton and Reston web pages, there are two new web pages dedicated to Tom's photographs.

Responses to Written Parliamentary Questions

Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian and RAGES member, raised two written parliamentary questions, relevent to our campaign, which were answered on 17 January 2020 by the Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, MSP.

Q. What progress has been made with the building of a new rail station at East Linton, and what the projected completion date is.

A. This Government remains committed to the delivery of East Linton station as early as practicable within Control Period 6 (2019 -2024).

Network Rail are currently progressing with the station designs. A holistic approach is being taken to the design of the station ensuring that the end to end journey undertaken by passengers is considered and reflected in the design. This includes how passengers will access the station and platforms.

A community liaison representative has been appointed to engage with both local communities, providing project information, attending community events and seeking feedback during both design and construction stages

Network Rail intend to submit their planning application in winter 2020 but in advance of this are already collating the information to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment screening (EIA), as the first stage in the planning application process.


Q. What impact ending Abellio's ScotRail franchise in 2022 will have on the planned new services between Dunbar and Edinburgh via East Linton.

A. Timetable development work is ongoing and will continue as an industry process regardless of whoever operates services beyond the expiry of the ScotRail Franchise at the time of the introduction of services to Dunbar/East Linton.

An industry working group (East Coast Mainline (ECML) December 2021 Event Steering Group) has been established as per normal industry practice to plan for the December 2021 East Coast Main Line timetable. This includes provision and planning for services at East Linton and other stations on the line. Transport Scotland, ScotRail and Network Rail are active participants in the steering group.

In addition, the opening of the new fully accessible platform at Dunbar Station in December 2019, has created additional capacity on the route.

Iain Gray "cautiously welcomed these responses."

[Ed: These responses equally apply to Reston]

Office of Rail and Road Statistics

The Office of Rail and Road has just published its estimates of station usage for 2018/19 and be found at https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/usage/estimates-of-station-usage/

Allow the web page to load and then scan down to find the interactive map where you can enter via drop-down menus any combination of: region; constituency; local authority; or a single station.

East Lothian Study

In May 2019, East Lothian Council published the following report: "East Lothian Access Study Stag Appraisal - Case for Change".

The full study can be found by Googling for the first six words of the report, but some sections of interest can be found by clicking on the following links:

HST Farewell

As part of the farewell tours of the High Speed Train, "The Northumbrian" ran from Edinburgh to Leeds on 20th December 2019.  The HST set had been specially re-painted in its original Inter-City 125 blue and grey livery.

The train stopped at Dunbar's platform 1 and our photographer was there to catch the action.

One of his photographs can be seen on the Dunbar page.

These diesel trains have had a long association with Dunbar and the east coast main line.

In the early 1980s they replaced the Deltic locomotive-hauled trains on the east coast main line and have seen many different liveries with as many operators:  British Rail; GNER; National Express East Coast; East Coast; Virgin Trains East Coast; and latterly London North Eastern Railway.

Many HST's were displaced in the early 1990s by the InterCity 225 electic trains on the ECML, but some were still needed for the services to Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen where the electric overhead wires had not reached.

Now that the Azumas, which can change to diesel operation for the non-electrified parts of the network, are in service, the HST's are no longer required on the ECML.

However, some HSTs are being upgraded to run on the ScotRail network.

ScotRail Franchise

On 18th December 2019, the Scottish Government announced that the ScotRail franchise currently with Abellio will be terminated in March 2020, three years early, using the "break clause".

Dunbar Station

Network Rail's construction of the new platform and footbridge with lifts at Dunbar station, as part of the Scottish Government’s continued investment in the railway, is well underway with trains stopping at the platform from 15th December 2019 and the official opening on 17th December 2019.  There is still some work to be done around the platform.

More information, a link to Network Rail's web page and a link to RAGES photographic record of the construction can be found at our Dunbar page.

The new footbridge was put in place on the night shift of 3rd/4th November.  A 500 tonne crane was used to install the footbridge which is 26m long weighing approximately 20 tonnes.

The Network Rail video of the crane lift can be seen at this link.

The first passenger train to arrive at the new platform was the LNER Newcastle to Edinburgh service (1S03) on Sunday 15 December 2019 to depart 10:04 hrs.

Click here for a video of its arrival at platform 2 - 14 minutes late!

There was a celebratory event to mark the completion and opening of the new platform at Dunbar on 17th December 2019.  RAGES was invited to this.

Latest Campaign News

RAGES attended the local rail meeting on 18th January 2019 hosted by East Lothian Council when ScotRail's Special Projects Manager, Gordon MacLeod was present.

RAGES was encouraged by his assurances regarding the plans to re-open East Linton and Reston stations at the earliest opportunities.

On 24th January 2019, RAGES attended a meeting with the Minister for Transport, Michael Matheson, MSP.

Among the topics raised were: overcrowding and cancelled trains on the North Berwick service; progress on the re-oening of East Linton and Reston stations.

Fuller details on both meetings will be in the Spring 2019 issue of The Rages Rag.

To provide feedback, on 13 March 2019 RAGES, met with the consultants, Peter Brett Associates appointed by East Lothian Council to develop the Scottish Transport Appraisal Group (STAG) Case for Change, primarily concerning the corridor through the west of the county, broadly following the A1 and the East Coast Main Line (ECML) from Haddington westwards, where the majority of journeys converge on the transport network.

A full report can be read at this link.

In a member’s debate at the Scottish Parliament at the end of May, Paul Wheelhouse MSP said this in closing the debate.

"On Reston and East Linton, I assure Rachael Hamilton that the commitment made by the Scottish ministers to the delivery of Reston and East Linton stations as early as practicable within control period 6 is unwavering.  Detailed design and timetable analysis is on-going.  Until both are completed, no firm date for construction or opening can be given.  Rachael Hamilton might know that the East Coast Line Capacity Study is due to be published soon; it will inform the construction window that can be used for development of the stations."

In response to the RAGES e-mail of May 2019 to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, the reply came on 27 June 2019 from Mr Lindsay Williamson, Communications and Correspondence Officer, Rail Projects and Technical Services of Transport Scotland:

"I have discussed the status of the planning application with Network Rail who are progressing the detailed design for East Linton Station. Network Rail and Transport Scotland officials have met with officials from East Lothian Council and Scottish Borders Council separately on several occasions to progress the detailed design for the new stations at East Linton and Reston. The land required for the new rail station at East Linton currently remains under the ownership of East Lothian Council. Negotiations in respect of the land required for Reston Station are progressing.

"Network Rail advise that until the detailed designs for each station are further advanced, a planning application for either station cannot be submitted as these detailed designs are required to support the planning applications."