Park-and-ride station proposed as solution for long-distance travellers
A PARK-AND-RIDE station on the edge of Edinburgh for long-distance rail travel has been proposed by business leaders, who claim the city's main station will be unable to cope with booming passenger numbers.
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said a "parkway" station must be considered because further expansion of Waverley station in the city centre could prove both too limited and too expensive.
The chamber said the new station could be built either to the east or to the west of Edinburgh to connect with either main lines to London.
Suggested sites include near Fort Kinnaird retail park, off the A1 to the south- east of the city, or near Riccarton, off the city bypass to the south-west.
Another option would be at Straiton, to the south, but this would require a new line to be built.
The chamber said the proposal followed the success of other parkway stations, such one in Bristol and another at Mansfield, between Nottingham and Sheffield.
Virgin Trains, which serves Bristol Parkway, said its location beside a motorway, with a large car park and frequent trains, attracted large numbers of motorists from far afield, especially those travelling to London.
The Edinburgh plan revives a previous proposal by the east coast main line operator GNER, which suggested a station near Musselburgh.
However, GNER dropped the scheme when a planned 20-year franchise was halved to ten years, making financing the station less attractive.
Graham Bell, a spokesman for the chamber, stressed that all options for further expansion of Waverley station must be considered, but a parkway station might be required as well.
Transport Scotland said the current 150 million project, to add two extra platforms at Waverley by the end of next year, would provide the necessary capacity for all planned new rail schemes, which are due to be completed by 2012.
These include lines to Edinburgh airport, the Borders, and a new link to Glasgow via Bathgate and Airdrie.
However, while ministers have not ruled out other further expansion, no commitments have been made.
Mr Bell said: "There is a lot of mileage left in Waverley, but it has limited space and can be extended only a little. Further expansion would be very expensive. Even if we do everything possible with Waverley, it will not meet our future needs."
Mr Bell said rail passenger numbers had increased by 40 per cent over the last decade, but expanding Waverley would add only 10-20 per cent to capacity.
He said: "One solution would be a parkway station for long-distance passengers who don't need to go to Waverley. This would alleviate the pressure on it to a considerable extent as you would not need to stop every train at both stations."
Mr Bell said an out-of-town station would encourage more people to travel by rail, but denied it would add to traffic queues on the city bypass. He said: "We do not suffer from congestion on the periphery of Edinburgh."
He added: "Bristol Parkway has been a fantastic success story. It has taken a huge number of people out of the city centre."
Mr Bell said other options included upgrading the A1 between Edinburgh and the Border, and launching new ferry routes between Fife and England, especially for freight.
Transport Scotland said a parkway scheme was not under consideration, but plans for rail development over the next 20 years were being drawn up.
A spokesman said: ""Ministers are developing a rail strategy for Scotland which will be published in the autumn."
he added: "This will set priorities for the railway in Scotland in the short, medium and long term."
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