Campaigners ‘aghast’ that £20m new Reston station in Borders may be served by just eight trains a day
Reston, on the east coast main line near Eyemouth in the Borders, is due to be completed next March following a 22-year campaign for its re-opening.
Two-hourly ScotRail trains between Edinburgh and Berwick, which would have called at Reston, were written into Abellio’s franchise in 2014.
The then transport minister Keith Brown described this as a “huge step forward towards the realisation of these services and shows a real commitment from the Scottish Government and ScotRail”.
However, they were later scrapped because of delays to the station which was originally due to have been finished in 2016, replacing one closed 57 years ago.
Now, a draft east coast main line timetable for May 2022 reveals it will include just one LNER and three CrossCountry services a day calling at Reston in each direction.
It stated the CrossCountry stops would be provided by switching them from Dunbar, while a fifth daily service would be provided at Reston if possible, in one or both directions.
The document added that there were also discussions about TransPennine Express operating a service between Newcastle or Berwick and Edinburgh that would stop at Reston, replacing the proposed CrossCountry services.
Campaign group Rail Action Group East of Scotland (Rages), which has been lobbying for the re-opening of Reston since it was founded in 1999, said the plans were ridiculous.
President Tom Thorburn said: “We are aghast at the proposed timetable for Reston and the robbery of trains from Dunbar.”
Berwickshire Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton said she was “astounded”.
She said: “Reston station isn’t yet finished and it seems its future is already in jeopardy.
“The Scottish Government spent years making a decision to back its reinstatement.
“To now be told the station could be just one big beautiful white elephant is insulting.”
A spokesperson for ScotRail, whose trains currently run only as far south as Dunbar, said: “It isn’t the plan for ScotRail to serve Reston.
"It is much more efficient for cross-Border operators to serve it and we do not want to impose unnecessary burdens on the Scottish taxpayer.
"The plan is for ScotRail to fill gaps at Dunbar if cross-Border operators cannot call at both Dunbar and Reston.”
The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which oversees the ScotRail franchise, confirmed that it was expected that Reston would be served only by cross-Border operators when it opened.
Its spokesperson said: “The timetable for Reston is still under discussion and we will confirm the details once it is finalised.
"We continue to focus on providing the best possible provision while bearing in mind the impact on the wider network or any changes in stopping patterns.”
TransPennine Express regional development manager Graham Meiklejohn said: “The consultation into the timetable will support decisions to be taken by the [UK] Department for Transport and Transport Scotland regarding calls at Reston and Dunbar.
"TransPennine Express has confirmed its interest in providing those calls as part of an Edinburgh-Newcastle service.”
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