Feasibility Study: Enhanced Rail Services between Edinburgh and Newcastle

2 Previous Studies

2.1.1 Improvements to local services along the ECML and the re-opening of Reston and East Linton railway stations have been the source of much discussion over the years. This section introduces the main studies undertaken in recent years to assess these potential improvements. The following four studies are briefly discussed:

  • East Lothian Rail Study (September 1999);
  • Edinburgh to Berwick Local Rail Study (Draft April 2004);
  • Edinburgh to Berwick Local Transport Study STAG 1 Report (Draft June 2005); and
  • SEStran Integrated Transport Corridors Study (SITCoS) (2004).

East Lothian rail study (September 1999)

2.1.2 Scott Wilson was commissioned by East Lothian Council in 1999 to review local services operating out of Edinburgh as far as Dunbar and the key findings were as follows:

  • any line speed improvements on the main line were unlikely to be utilised by local services due to the restricted top speed of the rolling stock although increased speeds on the North Berwick branch could bring benefits;
  • whilst freight traffic on the route had been found to be relatively static in terms of volume, it was suggested that future freight needs should be considered and adequately addressed in any future capacity studies;
  • a series of enhancements at stations were proposed, these considered a range of measures from 'quick-win' items to longer term upgrades; and
  • consideration was given, and recommendations made, with regard to the available capacity on the ECML for new or enhanced services.

Edinburgh to Berwick Local Rail Study (Draft April 2004)

2.1.3 This study was a collaboration between Scott Wilson and MVA Consultancy in 2004 and considered the following range of options:

  • an Edinburgh to Dunbar local service;
  • an additional station at East Linton;
  • an Edinburgh to Berwick local service; and
  • an additional station at Reston.

2.1.4 Using existing passenger figures for East Lothian stations, 2001 census data and projected journey times and frequencies from the two new stations the expected demand for new stations was derived and is shown in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1 Expected Demand for New Stations
Station Peak Period Travel Off Peak Period Travel Total Daily (weekday) demand Annual Figures (used in RUS)
East Linton 112 82 194 62,000
Reston 16 10 26  
Reston (park and ride) 107 70 177  
Reston Total 123 80 203 46,000

2.1.5 Note that the 2004 report is not explicit whether the 'Reston (park and ride)' figures are inclusive or exclusive of the 'Reston' figures. It has been assumed here that they are additive and the sum is shown as 'Reston Total'. The RUS used these figures as inputs to their calculations, and the annual figures used in the RUS are also shown here.

2.1.6 Table 2.2 shows the potential revenue for the new stations as reported in 2004. Note that annualised revenues by station were not reported.

Table 2.2 Potential Revenue for the new Stations
Station Per day - Peak Travel Per day - Off Peak Travel Daily
East Linton £709 £435 £1144
Reston (total) £1428 £784 £2212
Annual Revenue £1.097(m)    

Operational and Engineering Assessment

2.1.7 The Edinburgh to Berwick Local Rail Study also developed (at a high level) the proposed new timetables and options for locating stations at Reston and East Linton and the associated operating and construction costs for each of the options.

2.1.8 The reported operating costs incorporate allowances for resources (both train crew and rolling stock leasing), station lease charges, track access charges, fuel and vehicle maintenance costs are summarised in Table 2.3 below.

Table 2.3 Operating Cost Summary
  Full Rolling Stock Half Rolling Stock
Edinburgh to Dunbar £1.9m £1.2m
Edinburgh to Dunbar incl. East Linton £1.9m £1.2m
Edinburgh to Berwick incl. East Linton £3.2m £2.1m
Edinburgh to Berwick incl. East Linton and Reston £3.2m £2.1m

2.1.9 Table 2.4 below shows the construction costs reported in 2004.

Table 2.4 Summary of Station Option Costs (base on 2004 figures)
Option Total Cost
East Linton option 1 - former station site accessed from Station Road £3.2m
East Linton option 2 - to the northwest of the former station site £2.9m
Reston option 1 - to the northwest of underbridge 142 £2.7m
Reston option 2 - between underbridge 142 and overbridge 141 £2.2m
Reston option 3 - to the northwest of overbridge 141 £2.7m

Business case evaluation

2.1.10 The study concluded that the operating costs for the new services outweighed the benefits derived from the predicted passenger demand. This is true even for the 'half resource' options. The most viable scheme over a thirty year design life proved to be the introduction of the Edinburgh to Dunbar 'infill' service with the new station at East Linton (option 2). The extension of the service to Berwick produced little additional patronage and the introduction of the new station at Reston produced a significant demand, however this was outweighed by the additional cost of operating the extended service to Berwick.

SEStran Integrated Transport Corridor Study (SITCoS) (2004)

2.1.11 The SEStran Integrated Transport Corridors Study (SITCoS) was produced by MVA and provided recommendations for transport improvement on five corridors in the SEStran area:

  • Linlithgow rail corridor;
  • Queensferry Cross-Forth corridor;
  • East Lothian Rail corridor;
  • Pentlands (A702) Midlothian Road Corridor; and
  • Kincardine Corridor.

2.1.12 The study identified that for the East Lothian Rail Corridor:

  • all East Lothian station car parks operated near, at, or above their capacities resulting in local on-street parking problems, impacting on the attractiveness of public transport;
  • 'quick win' increases in station car park capacity throughout East Lothian had generally been exhausted;
  • significant growth was forecast in terms of population and households in East Lothian (and allocated in the Edinburgh and Lothians Structure Plan), coupled with increased levels of car ownership;
  • this will result in an increased demand for travel between East Lothian and Edinburgh; and
  • improving access to the rail network is seen as an essential tool in minimising the number of car trips between East Lothian and Edinburgh associated with this growth.

2.1.13 Following park and ride modelling of the East Lothian stations, the main recommendation from the STAG Part 1 appraisal was that two options be taken forward and considered further. These were:

  • development of the existing Park and Ride site at Wallyford into a formal public transport interchange with expanded Park and Ride provision (some 360 new spaces - approximately a 70% increase in total Park and Ride provision in East Lothian) and a fuller range of facilities; and
  • implementation of parking charges at all East Lothian station car parks, together with the provision of dedicated station shuttle bus services.

2.1.14 Subsequent to this, the expanded park and choose site at Wallyford was developed further and opened in 2008.

Edinburgh to Berwick Local Transport Study STAG 1 Report (Draft June 2005)

2.1.15 Scott Wilson's STAG Part 1 review of the Edinburgh to Berwick rail line followed on from the above three studies.

2.1.16 The STAG 1 identified a number of new developments planned for East Lothian and existing traffic problems including the following as follows:

  • car traffic on the A1 Corridor is growing at a rate that cannot be sustained indefinitely;
  • most commuting takes place by car;
  • public transport (and particularly bus) is unattractive compared to car travel;
  • both local authorities aspire to reducing car dependency; and
  • Scottish Borders Council has identified key development hubs that will require better sustainable transport links.

2.1.17 In response to the traffic problems identified above the following seven packages of options were identified for the STAG Part 1 appraisal. These are summarised in Table 2.5 below.

Table 2.5 Packages of Options Considered
A Best use of existing rail resources No increase in rail services beyond current resources, and no building of new infrastructure, but can incorporate revised stopping patterns for existing services. Review opportunities for Park & Ride at existing stations.
B Additional rail services Introduction of additional, local rail services on Edinburgh - Berwick - Newcastle corridor, but without the building of new infrastructure. Review opportunities for Park & Ride at existing stations.
C New rail stations Consideration of new stations at East Linton and Reston. Assumed to require provision of additional rail services (Package B) as a prerequisite. Review opportunities for Park & Ride at new stations.
D High quality coach services Identification of a network of high quality coach services penetrating at least as far as Edinburgh city centre, and associated Park & Ride sites.
E Local feeder buses Identification of a local feeder bus network, either to railheads or in conjunction with additional coach services (Package D).
F Dual A1 Reconstruction of A1 road north of Berwick to dual carriageway throughout.
G HOV Lanes on A1 Targeting of road capacity in favour of High Occupancy Vehicles (HOVs), including multiple-occupancy cars, taxis, buses and coaches. Assumes provision of dual carriageway (Package F) as a prerequisite to providing sufficient roadspace for allocation to HOVs.

2.1.18 It was concluded that the following proposals should be taken forward to a STAG Part 2 appraisal:

  • a new rail station at East Linton with as a second priority a new rail station at Reston as a supplementary option in support of East Linton. Both these options are dependent upon the provision of a new dedicated local train service either Edinburgh - Dunbar or Edinburgh - Berwick;
  • purpose-designed express coach package linking Eastern borders/East Lothian to Edinburgh. The emphasis should be on services into the central part of the City of Edinburgh; and
  • a new network of local feeder bus services linked to either new or existing railheads and/or new-dedicated coach service interchange points.

2.1.19 The study also noted issues that would particularly merit more detailed consideration and these included:

  • fuller analysis of market potential for enhanced rail and / or bus / coach services; in particular a comprehensive analysis of road-based public transport options;
  • detailed analysis of infrastructure requirements, especially in respect of coach services and feeder-bus integration; and
  • further detailed assessment of funding bases for rail and coach/bus options, including subsidy levels and cost to Government.

2.1.20 This current study can be seen as taking forward this work to look in more detail at the costs and benefits associated with enhanced rail services between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

2.1.21 The key additional factor is that this study considers the operational viability of services through a detailed timetabling exercise. In this way, timetables will be produced which could be implemented if the decision is taken to do so.