New station at East Linton gets go-ahead amid warnings it could become 'white elephant'
The official go-ahead has been given for a new station at East Linton, more than half a century after the last one closed.
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East Lothian Council's planning committee approved the proposals which will see the construction of a two-platform station on the East Coast mainline, with 126 car parking spaces. The station itself will be fully accessible with lifts and a footbridge connecting both platforms.
Campaigners have been pushing for the return of the station to the village for more than two decades.
A station opened in the village of East Linton in 1846 but the last passenger services stopped in 1964.
Network Rail said the new station provided a connection into Edinburgh Waverley, which would allow residents from the area to access an expanded range of employment, education and leisure opportunities.
It added that station projects generally acted as a catalyst for further investment and economic development in local areas and it was hoped the construction of the new East Linton station would help support investment in the community and further afield, open up transport links and improve connectivity.
But councillors raised fears the station could become a “white elephant” when no information was available on how many trains would use it.
Sue Kempson, Tory councillor for Dunbar and East Linton, said: “The number of stopping trains will be absolutely critical. I think East Linton stands to lose more than it gains from this train station.”
And fellow Tory Lachlan Bruce pointed to Reston railway station which is being built in the Borders and instead of a planned ScotRail commuter service to Edinburgh is expected to be served by just four trains a day in each direction from cross-border operators.
He said: “We have to ensure this does not become a white elephant.”
Following a site visit to the new station area, planning convener Norman Hampshire also raised concerns about the public address system.
He said the platform was six metres high and a speaker would normally be another three metres above that.
He said: “Everyone in the village will be able to hear announcements.”
Planners agreed to ask for a noise report to be approved as part of planning conditions to address the concerns.
But Cllr Hampshire said the council was very supportive of the new station, which would deliver significant benefits to East Lothian and make this area more attractive for inward investment, supporting local communities and the economy.
Transport Minister Graeme Dey welcomed planning approval for the station.
He said: “The Scottish Government has committed funding for this scheme which will have real potential to deliver a number of benefits for the local communities, including those who live in the village and commute into Edinburgh, and it will also help towards supporting our green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway said: "We are delighted that East Lothian Council has agreed that this project can progress. It is an exciting development that has the potential to transform the local community it will serve.
“Now that we have clarity on the planning decision, we will move to get onsite as quickly as possible and work with our partners to deliver this new station for our customers and the wider East Linton community."
The new station is due to be completed by 2024.