Rail campaign gets cross-border support

Plans for improved local rail services between Berwick and Edinburgh have received support from the leader of Northumberland County Council.

Thursday, 9th November 2017, 7:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 6:18 am
Barrie Forrest at the site of the old Reston Station.

Coun Peter Jackson was responding to a question raised by Coun Georgina Hill, member for Berwick East, at last Wednesday’s full council meeting.

Coun Hill, who has been a long-term rail campaigner and advocate for a later train service to Berwick, asked whether the council administration supported the aims of RAGES (Rail Action Group East of Scotland), which are to improve rail services between Edinburgh, Dunbar and Berwick and have East Linton and Reston stations re-opened for active use.

She also asked the leader if he recognised the significant benefits that would be gained for Berwick and the rest of the county if the campaign was successful.

In response, Coun Jackson said: “The council supports entirely the aims of RAGES and the importance of Berwick-upon-Tweed as a gateway to the strategic rail network. Berwick is a key destination in itself and improving its connectivity either side of the border will help the town to thrive.

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“On that basis, the council will continue to lobby Network Rail and other key partners to provide the infrastructure and services necessary to increase the number of trains and improve the services serving in the town.”

RAGES vice-chairman Barrie Forrest, welcoming the support, said: “I am very pleased that Northumberland County Council is giving its support to RAGES and will lobby Network Rail and other partners,

“I recently spoke to the Transport Minster at the Cross Party Group on Rail in the Scottish Parliament asking him about the re-opening of Reston and East Linton stations.

“He could not give a timescale but I made it clear that RAGES want the stations re-opened at the beginning of CP6 control period six, 2019-24.”

RAGES is asking members and local councils to write to the Transport Minister giving their support and asking for the opening of the stations and the local rail service.

“We have to keep the pressure on,” he said.

Coun Hill added: “It was good to hear Peter Jackson not just give his full backing to the RAGES campaign but it is clear that he really understands and supports the potential benefits for Berwick.

“Hopefully, everyone can now come together and push for the successful delivery of the aims and at that early point. Greater transport connectivity and the provision of later trains back to Berwick are also key parts of the new Berwick Regeneration Commission’s plans.”