Station plans off track
There has been pressure for nearly 20 years to re-open Reston station on the East Coast Main Line to serve eastern Berwickshire.
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 the 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 be opened and the services begun in late 2016.
Nothing has happened, however, except that the commitment to construct the station has been transferred to Network Rail, which has it in its budget for 2019-2024, and Scotrail has gone back on providing the services, presumably on commercial grounds.
The best hope for construction now lies in persuading Network Rail to activate it early in its five-year budget period.
The best hope for services at the station now lies in persuading Trans-Pennine Express to include it in its calling pattern when it implements the extension of services from Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, which currently terminate at Newcastle, to run through to Edinburgh.
This has been planned for several years, and hopefully includes plans to call at principal stations between Newcastle and Berwick. The inclusion of Reston in its timetable would not involve the disruption of existing services, nor the addition of new ones through Northumberland and the eastern Borders.
It would also widen opportunities for travel to destinations southwards, whereas the Scotrail services would have stopped at Berwick.
One of the problems has been the existence of a section-break at Reston.
This is a break in the electrical supply to the 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 apparently be expensive, but it will have to be done.
Another problem may be co-ordinating the times of the buses between Reston and Duns with the trains.
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There has been for many 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 apparently through fares available 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 and 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 and not by the train operator, whose charges at other stations on the same line are higher.
Apart from the charges, however, is the question of adequacy.
High charges are necessary at some stations in order to control demand, but where the size of the car park has been established by reference to the expected number of users, it is usually inadequate.
In almost every case where a line has been re-opened, the actual number of people using the 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? This book is priced at £14.95, post paid and signed by the author. Also Experiments in Public Transport Operation at £11.95. Order through the author’s website at www.john-
wylde.co.uk or from Grieves on the corner of Church Street in Berwick.