Feasibility Study: Enhanced Rail Services between Edinburgh and Newcastle

4 Consultation

4.1 Introduction

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 Consultation Strategy

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 Consultation Responses

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.

Table 4.1 Stakeholders invited to comment
Department for Transport Nexus One NorthEast Regional Tourism Team
Office of Rail Regulation Government Office for the North East Lothian NHS Board
Scottish Borders Council Visit Scotland North East Strategic Health Authority
Scottish Enterprise One North East Community Action Northumberland
North East Chambers of Commerce Northern Rail Adapt North East
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Newcastle City Council Scotland National Rural Network website
CBI Scotland Track Access Manager SUSTRANS Scotland
CBI North East Rail Freight Group SUSTRANS
SEStran Network Rail Visit Scotland
City of Edinburgh Council ATOC Ltd One NorthEast Regional Tourism Team
East Lothian Council Railfuture North East Gateshead Council
Public Transport Policy Officer Railfuture Scotland Confederation of Passenger Transport - Northern
Newcastle City Council Passenger Focus Sunderland Council
North Tyneside Council Confederation of Passenger Transport - Scotland South Tyneside Council
Alnmouth Rail User Group RAGES Relevant Community Groups

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.

Key themes

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.

Table 4.2 Key themes in Consultation
Theme Themes cited by….
Local support for opening Reston station Councillor Michael Cook, John Lamont MSP, Scottish Borders Council, Abbey St Bathans, Bonkyl and Preston Community Council, RAGES, Auchencrow Community Council
Individual members of the public
Availability of land for park and ride facility at Reston Councillor Michael Cook and John Lamont MSP
Individual members of the public
Later evening service to/from Dunbar Dunbar Community Council
Individual members of the public
Semi-fast services between Edinburgh and Newcastle should not be detrimental to services for the stations north of Newcastle, both local and long distance One North East, Nexus, Railfuture, DfT
Supportive of reopening East Linton station RAGES
Individual members of the public
Would bring more work and investment to the Reston area RAGES
Individual members of the public
Additional early morning Dunbar service arriving in Edinburgh by 9am and at the weekends Individual members of the public
Concern that the 2005 STAG 1 under predicted patronage figures at Reston due to recent development Councillor Michael Cook, Scottish Borders and John Lamont MSP
Improve connectivity between Northumberland stations but not at expense of long distance services Northumberland CC, Railfuture and SENRUG
Concerned about stock availability for new services RAGES, One North East
Concerned that no agreement has been reached between DfT and Cross Country over the changes from East Coast to Cross Country for the North East to Edinburgh and Glasgow One North East and Railfuture
Early and late services from Northumberland stations to Edinburgh and Newcastle Railfuture and Northumberland County Council
Fast Edinburgh to Newcastle service every two hours ARUG and SENRUG
Improved service to QMU Individual members of the public
Morning peak from Chathill to Newcastle and evening peak return ARUG and railfuture
New station at Reston would reduce CO2 and traffic on the A1 RAGES
Individual members of the public
Reston is ideal location for station Individual members of the public
Propose a bus service to areas surrounding Reston to new station RAGES
Individual members of the public
Take into account any existing or planned station facilities when developing the enhanced timetable Railfuture and One North East
Concerned Cramlington will be overlooked because platforms aren't long enough Nexus
Cramlington is a growing market - maintain service Northumberland County Council
Hourly service between Dunbar and Edinburgh stopping at intermediate stations from early morning to late evening East Lothian Council
Include Cramlington station as part of study because of population and potential patronage but recognises platform length is a constraint Railfuture
Increasing demand for rail in Northumberland demonstrated by facility improvements in area Northumberland County Council
Rolling stock may determine services Railfuture
Semi-fast service every two hours serving Morpeth, Alnmouth, Berwick and Dunbar ARUG

Abbreviations: ARUG - Alnmouth Rail User Group; SENRUG - South East Northumberland Rail User Group; and RAGES - Rail Action Group, East of Scotland.

4.4 Summary

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.