Feasibility Study: Enhanced Rail Services between Edinburgh and Newcastle

7 Summary

7.1 Introduction

7.1.1 This study has looked at the operational, financial (including revenues and costs) and socioeconomic aspects of the introduction of enhanced rail services between Edinburgh and Newcastle. Importantly, the RailSys work has demonstrated the availability of paths on the network which could form the basis for new rail services in the area.

7.1.2 The introduction of new rail services and stations is generally in line with Scottish and UK Government policies in terms of economic, social and environmental objectives, provided they demonstrate value for money, while a balance with the needs of existing passengers must also be considered. It is this balance between costs, benefits to new passengers and costs / benefits to existing passengers which is the key issue here.

7.2 Dunbar Services

7.2.1 Dunbar is currently in a near-unique position in that it is a relatively small (but growing) town served by both LDHS and local services. There is also a local desire to improve the latter whilst retaining the former, with particular reference to the remaining 'gaps' in the timetable.

7.2.2 The analysis here suggests that the additional of a new Dunbar specific service produces a BCR of less than 1.0, even when calling at all intermediate services in East Lothian. However, the addition of a new station at East Linton creates a marginally positive case. The construction of a new station at East Linton would result in an increased level of rail commuting from the settlement but some abstraction from Drem.

7.3 Berwick Services

7.3.1 As with Dunbar, the business case for a local Edinburgh - Berwick service is weak, indeed weaker than Dunbar. The local train travel times from Berwick to Edinburgh cannot compete with LDHS services so there are few benefits in taking the trains beyond Dunbar.

7.3.2 However, the addition of East Linton and Reston in combination to Berwick services does produce a small positive NPV. However this small positive NPV is very sensitive to the assumptions used and simple sensitivity tests surrounding these assumptions resulted in the NPV becoming negative. The addition of only one station is not sufficient to create a positive case.

7.3.3 Berwick services would provide the added benefit of increased connectivity from East Lothian to the south, ie LDHS services could be joined at Berwick rather than having to double back to Edinburgh or use Dunbar. This would also apply if Dunbar LDHS stops were scaled back.

7.4 Newcastle Services

7.4.1 The business case for an Edinburgh - Newcastle semi-fast service is the weakest of the three. The additional benefits and revenue are not sufficient to outweigh the operating costs of the service. The displacement of selected Northern Rail services would not create a sufficient cost saving to materially affect the case and would lead to a reduction in the level of service at Cramlington in particular.

7.4.2 In the longer term, there is scope to create a positive overall impact if a semi-fast service was introduced in conjunction with far fewer, or no LDHS service calls between Edinburgh and Newcastle (improving journey times for these services), although any option along these lines would face local public acceptability issues.

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