RAIL campaigners say that a £1 billion project to improve train links between Edinburgh and Glasgow provides the best opportunity in 50 years to revive a mothballed station in Abbeyhill.
The Capital Rail Action Group (CRAG) argues that reopening the redundant station would reduce congestion in the city and provide efficient transport links to east Edinburgh.
It also argues that the financial impediments derailing previous attempts to reopen the station could be negated by the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), which will relay rails almost to the old Abbeyhill Station site – therefore carrying out a large proportion of the necessary groundwork.
Speaking ahead of a community meeting tonight, Lawrence Marshall, chair of CRAG, said it was the best chance in a generation to relaunch Abbeyhill station, abandoned since 1963.
“The proposal we have for Network Rail is very modest and would probably only require the building of one platform and access off London Road,” he said.
“Apart from that there’s not a lot to do apart from a few extra hundred yards of track. In order to tackle congestion, we need to see swifter progress in reopening some of the comprehensive rail network that the city previously enjoyed.
“The Scottish Government has commissioned rail works in the Abbeyhill area as part of EGIP. An opportunity exists, as an add-on to these works, to re-open Abbeyhill Station. This would provide the area with a two-minute connection with Waverley, a seven-minute connection with Haymarket, and would re-connect the area with the regional and national rail network. We believe this proposal represents a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to enhance rail facilities in this part of Edinburgh.”
Sarah Boyack, MSP for Edinburgh Central, appeared supportive of the aim and said she hoped Network Rail would give due consideration to the proposals.
“EGIP is a massive programme of investment and it’s important that we get the maximum value from the £1 billion that we spend,” she said.
“That proposal could improve access to the rail network in Edinburgh for many people, and people have supported the idea of reopening the South Suburban Railway for passenger traffic for years now.
“An integrated approach would relieve congestion on the railway network in Edinburgh so I hope Network Rail give CRAG a fair hearing on their proposals.”
Councillors and politicians as well as representatives from CRAG and Network Rail are expected to attend tonight’s meeting at London Road Church Hall, which begins at 7.30pm.