Feasibility Study: Enhanced Rail Services between Edinburgh and Newcastle
4.1.1 Consultation is a key component of any study of this nature. The views and aspirations of stakeholders and members of the public are clearly an integral part of the process to shape proposals for the future. There are also a number of local rail passenger groups which have formed to promote the case for rail services in particular geographical areas, and as such these are also key stakeholders.
4.1.2 This chapter outlines in broad terms the written responses received in reply to the consultation. A fuller list of individual consultation results can be found in Appendix A.
4.2.1 A public meeting was held in Haddington on 28 June 2010. Meetings were also held with East Lothian Council, Scottish Borders Council, and Northumberland Councils. The study was also presented at a meeting of the South East Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran) Rail Forum on 27 July 2010. This meeting was attended by amongst others, SEStran, East Lothian Council, the City of Edinburgh Council, East Coast, and Network Rail. The intention was to raise awareness of the study and allow these stakeholders to highlight issues of importance from their perspective.
4.2.2 A letter was also circulated to a wide range of stakeholders, laying out the main objectives of the study and inviting comments.
4.3.1 As noted above, the main stakeholders were advised of the study and given the opportunity to provide input to the stage of generating options for enhanced train services in the corridor. Representatives from the organisations listed in Table 4.1 were invited to comment.
4.3.2 In addition to those stakeholders listed above, a number of other organisations and individuals fed into the consultation process and their comments have been incorporated into this chapter. Responses were received from 21 organisations, MSP and councillors and 14 individuals also provided written responses to the consultation.
4.3.3 Table 4.2 presents the key themes emerging from the consultation responses ordered by frequency of response. As can be seen in the table, Reston, East Linton and Dunbar concerns and suggestions feature prominently in the responses due to the strong support in the area and active rail user groups including Rail Action Group, East of Scotland (RAGES) leading to a high number of individual and community council responses. The responses show particular support for opening stations at Reston, East Linton and improved services for Dunbar.
4.3.4 Maintaining a balance of semi-fast Edinburgh to Newcastle services with regular services to intermediate stations also features highly in the responses. Local groups and rail stakeholders appreciate the benefits of the proposed semi-fast Edinburgh to Newcastle and LDHS services but want reassurances that intermediate stations will not be overlooked. Conversely, Cross Country believe that the study should identify the economic value of removing smaller station calls from some LDHS services as a standalone option.
4.3.5 Nexus, Northumberland County Council and railfuture's responses raise the issue that Cramlington station should be included as part of the study, but recognise that the station's current infrastructure may prove problematic.
Abbreviations: ARUG - Alnmouth Rail User Group; SENRUG - South East Northumberland Rail User Group; and RAGES - Rail Action Group, East of Scotland.
4.4.1 There are clearly very strong local networks in support of improved rail services and new stations in the area. These groups have been active and effective in campaigning for many years in this regard, and they have strong support from elected representatives.
4.4.2 There is therefore no doubt that there is a local desire for improved services and this has been fully expressed throughout the study.
4.4.3 In addition to support for the strategic options of new services and stations, there are a number of recurring local issues, focussed in particular on filling gaps in timetables. One of the most frequent of these is the timing of the last train from Edinburgh to Dunbar on a Saturday evening which leaves Edinburgh at 1900. This sort of detail is beyond the immediate scope of this study but should be considered separately.
4.4.4 One theme which recurs is the aspiration for improved local services along the corridor to be implemented without any associated reduction in LDHS station stops. In many ways this is the key issue here. Reducing travel times on LDHS services would create benefits for users of these services and assist in encouraging modal shift from air to rail for anglo-Scottish travel.
4.4.5 These reduced travel times could be achieved by removing intermediate stops at some or all of Morpeth, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar, if suitable alternative local services were provided, but this would in most cases lead to longer journey times and reduced connectivity to the national networks from these locations. The benefits generated for LDHS services from reduced travel times may or may not be enough to outweigh the disbenefits to local passengers. This issue is explored further in Chapter 6.