Edinburgh faces 'thousands more cars every day' unless railway station built in West Lothian town
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Winchburgh, until recently a village of just 2,000 people, is due to grow to a population of more than 12,000 over the next decade. Many new homes have already been built, along with two new secondary schools and a primary school. But an attempt by West Lothian Council to make a new railway station a condition of planning permission was blocked by Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland.
Now fears are growing that without a station, commuters will be left with little option but to use their car to get to work in the Capital, generating extra traffic, increasing congestion and undermining efforts to combat pollution and reduce emissions to net zero by 2030. Lothian Labour MSP Foysol Choudhury told the Scottish Parliament: “Winchburgh has been promoted as a commuter town for the city of Edinburgh, and it is forecast to have a population of 13,000 within the next eight years. A train station with a direct link to Edinburgh would provide a public transport link for Winchburgh’s growing population.”
And he challenged zero carbon and active travel Minister Patrick Harvie on the Scottish Government’s position. “Currently, with only the possibility of a motorway exit, residents have no choice but to commute by car. A train station in Winchburgh would directly contribute to the Scottish Government’s net zero targets and would improve traffic conditions in Edinburgh. Will the minister advise why the Scottish Government has not taken advantage of the opportunity to meet net zero targets and give residents the opportunity to opt out of private transport?”
Mr Harvie said Transport Scotland supported the proposal for a developer-funded station at Winchburgh and added that Network Rail had this week given Transport Scotland an estimate for the next stage of station design development. He said several communities had been reconnected to the rail network with new stations and more were planned. “That is a clear demonstration of the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland’s commitments to reconnecting as many communities as possible to the rail network; that includes newly growing communities, such as Winchburgh.”
But afterwards Mr Choudhury said Mr Harvie’s response was “not satisfactory” and claimed no-one was taking responsibility for making sure the station was built. He said: "We need to get that station going and save a lot of people using their cars. Otherwise, we face the prospect of thousands of commuters clogging the roads as they drive into Edinburgh every day. If there's no station they will be using their cars and the traffic will be a pure disaster. I’ve talked to the developers and talked to the community and nobody is happy about this. People have been buying houses believing there is going to be station. The developers say they are happy to invest in a station, but they need support from the Scottish Government.”
West Lothian Council has said any transport plan for Winchburgh which does not include a new station would be "sub-optimal".