Building a short stretch of track would give Edinburgh a third main rail hub – John McLellan

The proposed ‘Almond Chord’ rail line would link the moribund Edinburgh Gateway station with the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line beyond Winchburgh, writes John McLellan.

Thursday, 15th August 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 15th August 2019, 7:00 am
Flooding at the Winchburgh tunnel caused massive disruption for travellers. Picture: SWNS

For once frustrated travellers can’t entirely blame ScotRail for the cancellation of scores of services after severe flooding at the Winchburgh tunnel kept the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line closed for several days.

But although a month’s rain in 30 minutes was bound to cause some disruption, it could have been minimised had there been an alternative route.

And just such an option was mooted a decade ago, the so-called Almond Chord, a short length of new track to link up the line running through the still-moribund Edinburgh Gateway station with the main Glasgow line beyond Winchburgh.

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Restoring Edinburgh’s lost railway faces big hurdles – John McLellan

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Sadly, the Scottish Government in its wisdom axed the scheme in 2012 even though Network Rail had bought the land.

Following a Conservative motion in May, Edinburgh Council should be making the case for the Almond Chord to be included in the Scottish Government’s current review of transport projects.

And it looks like its agency Transport Scotland is open to more rail investment if last week’s £70m Levenmouth line announcement is anything to go by.

The project will link Leven with the Fife Circle and give the town a direct line to the Capital, plus a commuter service for well-to-do Edinburgh types with East Neuk bolt-holes.

But in strategic terms, the Almond Chord has a lot more potential than Levenmouth because it would transform Edinburgh Gateway into the city’s third main rail hub which it was designed to be.

It makes no sense to keep a station with the same capacity as Haymarket on a branch line.

From one dad to another, congratulations to Adam McVey

Council leader Adam McVey and I have had our differences on more than one occasion, well, most Thursdays when the Evening News hits the streets (as we used to say) so it makes a very happy difference to be able to extend sincere congratulations to him and his partner on the adoption of two wee boys who can now look forward to a secure future.

As the father of two sons myself, if he thinks running the council is tough... but I think he’ll find bringing up the lads infinitely more rewarding.

Affordable homes target may have been too optimistic

A new council report shows 2,266 new affordable homes have been completed in Edinburgh in the past two years and a further 2,296 are being built. In 2017 the SNP-Labour administration set itself a target of delivering 20,000 affordable homes in ten years.

According to last year’s Housing Land Audit, Edinburgh’s total land supply was enough for 30,296 homes, 22,153 on land without planning issues, with affordable housing making up 26 per cent of completions.

To complete 15,000 more affordable homes by 2027 will need half the total land supply, or 68 per cent of the unconstrained sites, but this is not mentioned in the latest document.

Sooner or later the administration will need to come clean about where the affordable houses are going to go and who is going to build them. Or admit the target was wildly optimistic.

Signs of the times but not for bikes

As well as pushing Fringe shows, the advertising boards the city council has put up around signposts are handy for pushing their messages – like telling people to cough up for their garden bins service, twenty’s plenty and all that sort of thing.

But as the authority tries to encourage us to switch to active travel like cycling I discovered a problem last week – you can’t chain your bike to a post wrapped in heavy card.