Dunbar set to lose out again as rail links are cut back
PASSENGERS face losing more trains between Edinburgh and East Lothian under new plans for the east coast main line, The Scotsman has learned.
Two daily services would be withdrawn under proposals for the next franchise which starts next year.
The threat comes less than two years after late-night southbound trains from Edinburgh were scrapped.
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is proposing withdrawing GNER’s 6:35pm service from Edinburgh to Newcastle upon Tyne, which is used by commuters from Dunbar. It also plans to terminate GNER’s 5:30pm London-Edinburgh service at Newcastle.
Passenger groups have vowed to fight the cuts as plans for a replacement ScotRail service between Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed have yet to be developed.
Dunbar, where a series of new housing developments has increased rail commuting to Edinburgh, is currently served only by long-distance GNER trains. Both GNER and Virgin services call at Berwick, but there is no ScotRail service on the line.
East Lothian and Scottish Borders councils are putting the finishing touches to a feasibility study which is understood to back a commuter service between Edinburgh and Berwick. The study, which has been supported by the Scottish Executive, is thought likely to lead to the service being established under the next seven-year ScotRail franchise, which starts in October.
However, a blueprint for upgrading the east coast main line, which is expected to address such issues, has been postponed until after completion of the government’s rail review this summer.
Originally, consultation on this "route utilisation strategy" was planned to coincide with proposals for the new long-distance train franchise for the line.
GNER withdrew its 11pm southbound service from Edinburgh in 2002, leaving passengers with no trains after 9pm.
The Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES) said further cuts would be premature.
Tom Thorburn, its chairman, said: "The 6:35pm from Edinburgh is a peak-time service and Dunbar has few enough trains without this one being taken away too.
"We are looking to get these services properly bolstered, and any cuts would be a great pity because any new services would not be introduced quickly enough."
The Rail Passengers Committee Scotland, the official watchdog, has also criticised the lack of co-ordination over the changes. Mike Lunan, its convener, said: "Things do not appear to be being taken in the right order."
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