Residents ‘in limbo’ as rail link plans put on hold

Louise and Michael Westmacott are worried their house will be blighted
Louise and Michael Westmacott are worried their house will be blighted
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A COMMUNITY has been left in limbo after a key rail project was put on hold.

Half a dozen homeowners, most of whom have lived in the area for more than 30 years, had already had to face up to the prospect of losing their homes because of the proposed new railway link through land near Dalmeny.

But now the Scottish Government has abandoned plans to build the line – known as the Dalmeny chord – any time soon.

The residents have not been told whether Network Rail will still go ahead with the purchase of their properties or whether they will be left with houses blighted by the possibility the scheme will be revived at some future date.

Verna Low, 59, and her husband, John, have lived in Craigbrae Cottage for 34 years and had no intention of moving,

“We are at our wits’ end,” she said. “It was a very distressing situation in the first place. You get over that as much as you can, thinking you have to go, then this.

“We’ve all lived here for ages, this is a community they are destroying.

“This was going to be our house until we die, we spent £50,000 on an extension four years ago. We look out on to a beautiful field and views of the Pentlands.

“I have a 90-year-old mother living with us and it’s ideal for her. She now thinks she might have to go into a nursing home.”

The residents only discovered the plans for the Dalmeny chord had been dropped when they read about it in the Evening News.

Mrs Low said: “We’re waiting to hear from Network Rail. We cannot think anything till then. We are in limbo. They are messing about with our lives.”

Mr Low added: “We asked in the past what degree of conviction they had that this would go ahead and they were unequivocal. Even as recently as last month, Keith Brown, the transport minister, was saying it was due to be completed on schedule.”

The Dalmeny chord – which would have linked the Edinburgh-Glasgow line to the Fife line – was a key part of the 
£1 billion Edinburgh-Glasgow rail improvement programme, which would have meant six trains an hour between the two cities, journey times cut to 35 minutes and trains calling at the new Edinburgh Gateway station where passengers could switch to a tram to reach the airport.

The government announced last week the budget was being cut to £650m, the service frequency will remain at four trains an hour, journeys will be 40 minutes and passengers from Glasgow heading for the airport will still have to travel to Haymarket and out again.

Businessman Michael Westmacott, who has lived up the road at Craigiebank Farmhouse for more than 30 years, said the change of plan seemed to have happened suddenly.

He said: “My wife Louise runs a bed and breakfast and her busiest time is the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston. Just ten days before the announcement we asked Network Rail, could we take bookings for next year’s Highland Show and they said we shouldn’t, so she has cancelled all the advertising for next year.

“There are six houses here and Network Rail are meant to be buying us out. We have spent a year arguing, we were just about to come to an agreement and now it looks as if we could be back to square one.

“We are worried we are not going to get a payout now but our houses will be blighted 
forever.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We have made offers to buy a number of properties along the route and are in active discussions with agents. Network Rail remains committed to completing these 
transactions should the owners wish to sell.”