Delighted at campaign taking battle for new Winchburgh railway station forward - Sue Webber

Over the past year I’ve been arguing hard for a new railway station for Winchburgh, taking the battle for badly needed transport infrastructure in the burgeoning West Lothian village to UK ministers as well as to the Scottish Government.
Winchburgh Developments Ltd is asking people to show their support in a letter writing campaign to local MSPsWinchburgh Developments Ltd is asking people to show their support in a letter writing campaign to local MSPs
Winchburgh Developments Ltd is asking people to show their support in a letter writing campaign to local MSPs

I was therefore delighted that a new campaign has followed suit spearheaded by John Hamilton, the chief executive of Winchburgh Developments Ltd (WDL), the company overseeing the delivery of 4,000 new homes, new schools and medical facilities, and commercial developments including a new town centre.

The Edinburgh-Glasgow railway line runs immediately to the north of the development site and without a new station to replace the one closed over 90 years ago the pressure on the road network will be enormous.

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WDL has already spent over £50 million on transport improvements for the town, including a new junction on the M9, three new bridges and a new road to Kirkliston, so they certainly take their responsibilities seriously.

They have also commissioned a study from transport consultants Systra, which estimates the station will remove just short of 420,000 car journeys a year, which must surely make this a priority as the Scottish Government and local authorities continue to struggle to reach their climate change goals.

ScotRail’s timetables have already been adjusted to take a new stop into account, so the mystery is why there is still an argument about getting the job done.

No sooner had WDL’s new brochure about the station been issued than I received over 800 emails from supportive residents to add to my petition, and I was only too happy to tell them about the considerable lobbying that I’ve already undertaken.

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A station like the one built at East Linton could cost over £20 million, and not unreasonably WDL is looking for a Scottish Government contribution, especially as the station should generate a total of around £9m of economic benefits a year, according to Systra.

That means the government’s investment could have paid for itself in three years and have helped alleviate gridlock in West Edinburgh. Therefore, I’m a lot less delighted about the warm words from Scottish Government ministers without hot action. Quite the reverse.

The latest is Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, and with his ministerial responsibility for Net Zero and active travel I thought he’d have jumped at the chance to make sure a plan to prevent over 400,000 car journeys was enacted as soon as humanly possible.

But no. “Whilst the Scottish Government is supportive of a new station in Winchburgh,” he wrote, “it is our understanding of the station proposal that it is and has always been a developer led station, as outlined in Winchburgh Developments Ltd’s original Masterplan.”

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However, the WDL masterplan published in 2022 shows where they would build a park-and-ride facility, next to where the station should be, but a station is not shown as part of its commitment.

All Mr Harvie did was confirm an earlier commitment by former transport minister Jenny Gilruth for Transport Scotland and Scotrail to fit out the station and continue to manage it after completion. And he promised to attend a meeting.

But when the Green approach is to set lofty goals and expect private companies and individuals to foot the bills, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP