Rail campaigners fighting to save Edinburgh-Dunbar train services win major concession

Campaigners fighting plans to cut rail services to Dunbar station appear to have won a major concession.
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East Lothian SNP MSP Paul McLennan said they had been given assurances that train firm CrossCountry would no longer go ahead with its plan to axe 13 services a day to the town. But LNER still looks set to press ahead with its proposal to withdraw the most popular evening commuter train and all Sunday services.

Now Mr McLennan and the campaigners plan to redouble their efforts and are urging rail users to register their concerns by responding to the consultations on the East Coast mainline timetable changes before the deadline in a fortnight.

East Lothian MSP Paul McLennan with campaigners at Dunbar stationEast Lothian MSP Paul McLennan with campaigners at Dunbar station
East Lothian MSP Paul McLennan with campaigners at Dunbar station
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The original proposals would have seen Dunbar lose a total of 17 service just 18 months after £13 million was invested in building an extra platform at the station.

The proposed timetable would also have meant Scotland's newest railway station, being built at a cost of £20 million at Reston in the Borders, would only be served by four trains per day in each direction by cross-border operators.

Mr McLennan descibed the proposals as “completely absurd”.

He said: “Removing the services outlined within the consultations would be a huge step in the wrong direction both for local connectivity, and for achieving environmental targets.”

He teamed up with the Rail Action Group East of Scotland, Dunbar Community Council, Dunpender Community Council and East Lothian Community Rail Partnership to oppose the timetable changes.

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And he said: “We have had very positive discussions with Transport Scotland , Scottish Government and Cross Country and have been reassured that the 13 Cross Country Services will remain in the timetable for May 2022 and that new Reston station, currently under construction in the Borders will have eight services in each direction.”

Mr McLennan said since LNER was the main operator on the East Coast mainline the other train companies had to fit their services around its timetable, but after talks involving the Scottish Government and the UK Department for Transport, a “work-around” had been arrived at which would allow CrossCountry to continue the current level of service to Dunbar.

He said: “CrossCountry wanted to provide these services. It’s a good outcome – but we’ve still got to get LNER to keep their services.

“We urge LNER to scrap their proposed cuts and we encourage as many people as possible to reply to their consultation.”

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He said LNER’s 17:30 commuter train from Edinburgh was probably the busiest train of the day with up to 500 passengers getting off at Dunbar in normal times.

"If people don’t get that they have to wait an hour for another train and there would also be an issue of overcrowding or people are just going to decide to use the car.

"Cutting that would have a devastating effect – it would impact on childcare and all sorts of things. People can’t afford to be getting home at 7pm when they should be there an hour earlier.”

LNER also plans to withdraw three Sunday services from Dunbar to Edinburgh, meaning no trains from Saturday night until Monday morning.

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Mr McLennan said: “We urge locals to make their voices heard to prevent the robbery of our vital rail services by completing the consultations before the deadline on August 5.”

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