Could station plan get back on track?

A goods train passing the site of Reston Station shortly after its closure on May 4, 1964.

There has been pressure for nearly 20 years to re-open Reston station on the East Coast Main Line.

It lies on a bus route linking Eyemouth and Duns, and the village has been poised for residential expansion pending the construction of the station.

The Scottish Government made a commitment to the project, and Scotrail produced a draft timetable, which would be by extension of local services between Edinburgh and Dunbar, while the Scottish Borders Council committed a proportion of the funds required, and also committed to local development.

It was announced that the station would open and services begun in late 2016.

Nothing has happened, however, except that the commitment to construct it has been transferred to Network Rail, which has it in its budget for 2019-2024, and Scotrail has gone back on providing services.

The best hope for construction now lies in persuading Network Rail to activate it early in its five-year budget. The best hope for services lies in persuading Trans-Pennine Express to include it in its calling pattern when it extends services from Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, which currently terminate at Newcastle, to run to Edinburgh. This has been planned for years, and hopefully includes plans to call at principal stations between Newcastle and Berwick.

The inclusion of Reston in its timetable would, therefore, not involve the disruption of any existing services, nor the addition of new ones. It would also widen opportunities for travel southwards.

One of the problems has been a section-break at Reston. This is a break in the electrical supply to overhead wires, and drivers have to pass it with the power off. A train starting from Reston would need to have the power on or risk stalling, unable to move. Changing the location of the section-break will be expensive, but it will have to be done.

Another problem may be co-ordinating the times of buses between Reston and Duns with the trains.

There has been for years an established rail-link bus between Berwick, Duns and Galashiels. The times of these buses are shown on the train departure screens at Berwick, but the fares have now been deleted from the National Rail website, although there are still through fares from Duns to other railway destinations.

A search on the National Rail website for Duns to Galashiels now sends you from Duns to Berwick by bus, then Berwick to Edinburgh and Edinburgh to Galashiels by train, and charges you accordingly. The best way from Duns to Edinburgh is now by bus to Galashiels, then on the Borders Railway.

A problem at many stations is car parking. Users of Berwick Station are extremely fortunate that the car park is operated by the local authority, not the train operator, whose charges are higher.

Apart from the charges, is the question of adequacy. High charges are necessary at some stations to control demand, but where the size of the car park has been established by the expected number of users, it is usually inadequate.

In almost every case where a line has been re-opened, the number of people using stations is greater than the forecast. In many cases, the number of users expected in the first year has often been reached after three or four months.

John Wylde is the author of Integrated Transport – a Will-o’-the-wisp? priced £14.95, post paid and signed by the author. Also Experiments in Public Transport Operation, at £11.95. Order at www.john-wylde.co.uk

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