Calls for Edinburgh’s South Suburban rail line to reopen

FRESH calls have been made to reopen the city’s South Suburban rail line on the back of the successful relaunch of the Borders Railway.
Passengers leave the platform at Morningside station in 1961. Picture: TSPLPassengers leave the platform at Morningside station in 1961. Picture: TSPL
Passengers leave the platform at Morningside station in 1961. Picture: TSPL

Campaigners are urging the Scottish Government to reconsider a feasibility study into opening the service up to passengers for the first time in more than 50 years.

The route – which has been restricted to freight transport since 1962 – would run between Waverley and Haymarket via stations at Gorgie, Craiglockhart, Morningside, Blackford or Newington, Cameron Toll, Craigmillar, Niddrie and Kinnaird Park.

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The last study into relaunching the historic service was carried out almost a decade ago and suggested that if trains were to run every 15 minutes, the line could attract between 9000 and 13,500 people every day.

Newington station as it looks today. Picture: TSPLNewington station as it looks today. Picture: TSPL
Newington station as it looks today. Picture: TSPL

Rail enthusiasts insist the old passenger line, nicknamed the South Sub by locals, could even be linked up with the trams through the use of carriages that can run on both roads and tracks.

David Spaven, rail expert and author of the book Waverley Route: The Battle for the Borders Railway, said reopening the service was “certainly feasible” – and would likely receive widespread support.

He said: “I think the solution for opening the South Suburban rail line is to develop what they call tram trains – they are used extensively in Germany. These trams can run on the streets but then are able to join the rails. There would be capacity to have both transport and freight trains on the line.

“I think there would be a lot of support for this from rail development groups, rail campaigners and lobbyists, and from the local community.

“The experience worldwide suggests that if you put on high quality tram or rail services, people will use them.”

Calls for the Scottish Government to take another look at the service during the next parliament are being spearheaded by Miles Briggs, Scottish Tory candidate for Edinburgh Southern.

He said the idea had attracted “significant local support”, adding: “I believe the time has come for a new feasibility study into reconnecting the Edinburgh South Suburban service.”

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But a council spokeswoman said they had “no plans to carry out a study”.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “For a scheme to be suggested as an appropriate transport intervention, the promoters should come forward with a business case including structured proposals.”