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Railwatch 079 - April 1999

Railwatch - Rail for Edinburgh

Edinburgh is seeking £10million from government to develop rail services and park-and-ride facilities in the east of the city.

The aim is to use existing rail infrastructure but also to build two new stations at Brunstane and Kinnaird Park. The branch line between Portobello and Kinnaird Park would be re-opened to passenger traffic, but there would be no station.

Conservative, Liberal Democrat and SNP councillors all called for a station at Portobello to be included in the bid.

Opposition officials asked why a Portobello halt could not be included and were informed that it would cost an extra £1.75 million.

Transport Convener, David Begg described the scheme as an important element in the city's transport strategy and an attractive alternative to the car.

But RDS member Dr David Low of Napier University Edinburgh believes that there is much greater potential. The old rail routes in the north of the city which have been safeguarded by the council, could easily be re-laid to form a loop.

Part of the route already exists in the form of a freight-only branch line so less than five miles of track would need to be re-laid. The bridges and tunnels remain intact. Combined with the South Suburban Railway, this northern loop would enable a figure-of-eight rail service to operate through Edinburgh.

It could provide a reliable and fast service to the city centre with exceptional cross-city opportunities. Half the population of Edinburgh would live within a 10-minute walk of a station on this new rail route.

The city's two main railway stations, Haymarket and Waverley, would be at the heart of the system giving direct interchange with other rail services.

The simple route would provide attractive and easily understood services.

It would also be compatible with Crossrail and planned public transport improvements in the west of the city.

The idea presents an opportunity to make use of an existing (almost entirely unused) resource to solve Edinburgh's pressing transportation problems, providing genuinely new transport capacity for the future of Scotland's capital city.

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