Council calls for £2m investment at station

Councillors have called for the Government to invest £2million to upgrade the facilities at Berwick railway station and turn it into a transport hub.

Friday, 6th January 2017, 6:20 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:01 pm
Timetable at Berwick railway station

Berwick Town Council is asking the Department for Transport to match the funding commitment made by the Scottish Government to re-opening stations at Reston and East Linton.

That would pave the way for the introduction of a local rail service between Edinburgh and Berwick, including the possibility of later trains from the Scottish capital to make it feasible to enjoy an evening’s entertainment there.

Cllr Eric Goodyer said: “The re-instatement of local rail services between Berwick and Edinburgh is a significant investment which will boost the prosperity of Berwick and enable the town to exploit the growing economic importance of the nearby Edinburgh and South East Regional City Deal.

“As Berwick railway station is in England, none of the promised finance to reopen its rail service (Edinburgh to Berwick) is likely to be invested in improving our station.

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“We therefore request that we write to our MP and the Department for Transport requesting that the UK Government matches the investment made by the Scottish Government into this new rail service by awarding £2million to upgrade the facilities at Berwick station and to convert it into a transport hub fit for the 21st century.”

Town councillors have also called on Northumberland County Council to prepare a bid for the Local Transport Programme to support this bid.

They have reaffirmed their support for Rail Action Group East of Scotland (RAGES) which is campaigning for the service to be in place by 2018.

Councillors have agreed to offer RAGES any assitance they can.

Cllr Georgina Hill said: “Since we last agreed to support the aims of RAGES, I met Barrie Forrest, the local representative, and he is naturally very keen for us to join the campaign so we can help in any way we can.

“I think one thing that would be particularly good is that the Scottish Government, Scottish Borders and East Lothian Councils have made a financial commitment and one thing that we could do is lobby on this side of the border because Berwick could benefit from this, particularly in the form of late-night trains.”

The town council also agreed to continue to push for improved rail services in north Northumberland and called on the county council to protect land around former stations such as Belford so they can be brought back into use in the future.

“I fully support this,” said Cllr Joe Lang. “ We need to stay in contact with RAGES but also the Northumberland group (SENRUG) that’s arguing for better links between Newcastle and Berwick.”

The Scottish Government is putting £6million towards the £10million cost of reopening Reston station,w hich closed in 1964. East Linton is now being offered more than £7million towards its overall cost of £11.7million.

Scottish Borders Council is contributing £2.84million for Reston station and East Lothian Council is contributing £3.44million towards East Linton but there is still a shortfall of more than £1million.