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Letter sent to all Edinburgh and Lothians MSPs, 11 November 2011: Slicing through the city - please support the campaign to re-open Abbeyhill station as part of the £1bn EGIP project

posted 12 Nov 2011, 17:24 by Lawrence Marshall   [ updated 13 Nov 2011, 13:05 ]
Dear MSP,
                       as you may be aware, Network Rail, working for Transport Scotland, have proposed re-activating the dormant section of railway running from just east of the Calton tunnels through the site of the old Abbeyhill station and northwards for a short distance beyond the overbridge at London Road. This will be electrified and form part of the £1 billion Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP - www.networkrail.co.uk/egip).
   The primary purpose of this work at Abbeyhill is to provide stabling sidings for trains which at the moment otherwise block up platform capacity at Waverley station.
   The Capital Rail Action Group (CRAG) have, however, proposed, as a relatively low-cost add-on to these works, that the opportunity be taken to provide a passenger service to a re-opened Abbeyhill station. This would be possible by utilising ScotRail trains which, coming in from the west and Fife, currently terminate at Waverley and sit in the station for a reasonable period of time before heading back out. Far better that they run forward for 2 minutes to Abbeyhill to terminate and re-start there. We think that a service running at least every 15 minutes should be possible utilising existing rolling stock in this way. The main extra ongoing expense would not be fuel or power (sets are rarely shut down at Waverley) but rather a little extra staff time - as staff currently do not sit on empty sets at Waverley!
   Abbeyhill is a densely populated part of the capital and the station site is well placed to act - in a similar manner to Haymarket at the western edge of the city centre - as an interchange with the many bus services passing by just outside. The Scottish Parliament is nearby - as is Easter Road stadium, Meadowbank stadium, Meadowbank retail park and Holyrood Park.
Waverley is 2 minutes away by train, Haymarket around 7 minutes and South Gyle and Edinburgh Park around 12 minutes. Slicing through the city - the second most congested in Britain and the seventh in Europe (http://www.scotsman.com/news/edinburgh_reaches_top_ten_list_of_congested_cities_1_1692077) - is only possible by rail. Moreover, many local residents will no doubt also welcome a re-instated local link into the regional and national rail network for journeys further afield. Indeed, many were present when CRAG and Network Rail held a joint meeting in London Road Church hall (at the top of Easter Road) on 2nd November to separately outline the proposal for a station and the current scope of EGIP. The hall was full.
   We would therefore be most grateful for any support you can lend in lobbying Transport Scotland to consider this very modest add-on to EGIP. The first thing we would ask of you is that you write to Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, and Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Housing and Transport, asking that they instruct Transport Scotland to consider this proposal. It would also be useful if you could include the re-opening of Abbeyhill station in any response you make to the current EGIP consultation (EGIPScotland@networkrail.co.uk) - responses have to be in by 30th November. Please do copy to us any responses you yourselves receive.
   Finally, please don't hesitate to contact me if you wish to chat about this issue or seek any further information. I have copied in below the e-mail giving details of the public meeting held on 2nd November - together with a CRAG News Release and an STV Edinburgh South-East article of 1st November and a piece from the Edinburgh "Evening News" of 2nd November. The video link (http://news.stv.tv/election-2011/241219-transport-group-demands-end-to-trams-bickering/) on the e-mail giving details of the 2nd November meeting is especially worth viewing.

Yours sincerely

Lawrence Marshall
Chair
Capital Rail Action Group
Tel.: (0131) 669 1336
* * * * *
Details of 2 November 2011 meeting in Abbeyhill:

Dear All,
                  I do hope that you'll be able to make it along to the CRAG (www.capitalrail.org.uk) meeting this coming Wednesday evening (2nd November) at 7.30 p.m. in the hall of London Road Church, 1a Easter Road (entrance by the bus stop at the top of Easter Road).
   Network Rail will be giving a presentation on the £1 billion Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) and its implications for the Abbeyhill area - while CRAG will be making the case for re-opening Abbeyhill station as a small add-on to the EGIP works. Abbeyhill is two minutes away from Waverley by train.
   Please do feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone else you think might be interested in this meeting. Please also feel free to watch the STV film of April this year which clearly shows local support for a re-opened station at Abbeyhill - it's at

Lawrence Marshall
Chair
Capital Rail Action Group
Tel.: (0131) 669 1336
CAPITAL RAIL ACTION GROUP
Meeting on Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme and Abbeyhill
Presentations by Network Rail and Capital Rail Action Group
London Road Church Hall (top of Easter Road), Wednesday 2nd November 2011, 7.30 p.m.

Abbeyhill Station  -  One of the special shuttle trains from Edinburgh Waverley Station to the Commonwealth Games at Meadowbank Stadium

Abbeyhill - en route to the Commomwealth Games at Meadowbank, 1986

* * * * *

The Case for Abbeyhill

Proposal

Network Rail Scotland, leading for Transport Scotland, propose, as part of the £1 billion Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), to relay rails on the currently redundant double track bed to the north of the existing main lines heading east from the Calton tunnels – almost to the old Abbeyhill station site. This is to provide stabling sidings to accommodate trains which at the moment block up platform capacity at Waverley – some intercity sets, for example, sit in Waverley for over an hour upon arrival before they depart again.

An opportunity therefore exists to consider extending these sidings beyond the old station site to enable passenger trains to once more serve Abbeyhill.

Previous studies into the reopening of Abbeyhill station have been based on the assumption that a full reopening of the Edinburgh South Suburban Railway would be necessary. Various factors, including cost, have mitigated against this option.

Since now much of the infrastructure required for this proposal will be delivered by EGIP, reopening Abbeyhill station should be possible at low marginal cost – especially if also utilising dwell times for ScotRail trains currently terminating at Waverley.


Benefits

Abbeyhill station is surrounded by the dense tenements of the Calton, Easter Road, London Road and Abbeyhill areas to the east of Edinburgh city centre. It is also close, as its name would suggest, to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

The station site is also situated right below the busy main London Road with its many bus services offering connections eastwards and northwards. Passengers would be able to board the train at Abbeyhill for journeys to the west with easy interchange at Waverley for other onward rail journeys.

We believe this proposal represents a “once in a generation” opportunity to enhance rail facilities in this part of Edinburgh.

* * * * *
CRAG News Release of 1 November 2011:

Capital Rail Action Group

NEWS RELEASE
For immediate use: Tuesday 1 November 2011

LOCAL TRANSPORT FOR A CONGESTED CAPITAL:
ACTION GROUP CALLS FOR RE-OPENING OF EDINBURGH'S ABBEYHILL STATION


At a meeting to be held in the Abbeyhill area of Edinburgh on Wednesday evening (see details below), the Capital Rail Action Group (CRAG) [1] will be making the case for the re-opening of Abbeyhill Station.

CRAG Chair, Lawrence Marshall, said:

"Edinburgh is the second most congested city in Britain and the seventh in Europe. [2] In order to tackle congestion, we need to see swifter progress in reopening some of the comprehensive rail network that the City previously enjoyed.

"The Scottish Government has commissioned rail works in the Abbeyhill area as part of the 'Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme' ("EGIP"). An opportunity exists, as an add-on to these works, to re-open Abbeyhill Station to give those living and passing through this densely populated part of the city access to a fast, frequent rail service. This would provide the area with a two-minute connection with Waverley, a seven-minute connection with Haymarket, and would re-connect the area with the regional and national rail network. We believe this proposal represents a “once in a generation” opportunity to enhance rail facilities in this part of Edinburgh.

"CRAG welcomes the support already offered by local politicians and hopes that Wednesday's meeting, to be addressed by Network Rail, will mark a further stage in rail becoming again an option for travel within the capital".

ENDS

CONTACTS:

Lawrence Marshall
T: 0131 669 1336
M: 07501 121984
E: lawrence336@btinternet.com
W: www.capitalrail.org.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] See <http://www.capitalrail.org.uk/>

[2] See <http://www.scotsman.com/news/edinburgh_reaches_top_ten_list_of_congested_cities_1_1692077>.

[3] Information on the meeting:

CAPITAL RAIL ACTION GROUP

Meeting on Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme and Abbeyhill

Presentations by Network Rail and Capital Rail Action Group

London Road Church Hall (top of Easter Road), Wednesday 2nd November 2011, 7.30 p.m.

* * * * *
The Case for Abbeyhill

Proposal

Network Rail Scotland, leading for Transport Scotland, propose, as part of the £1 billion Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), to relay rails on the currently redundant double track bed to the north of the existing main lines heading east from the Calton tunnels – almost to the old Abbeyhill station site. This is to provide stabling sidings to accommodate trains which at the moment block up platform capacity at Waverley – some intercity sets, for example, sit in Waverley for over an hour upon arrival before they depart again.

An opportunity therefore exists to consider extending these sidings beyond the old station site to enable passenger trains to once more serve Abbeyhill.

Previous studies into the reopening of Abbeyhill station have been based on the assumption that a full reopening of the Edinburgh South Suburban Railway would be necessary. Various factors, including cost, have mitigated against this option.

Since now much of the infrastructure required for this proposal will be delivered by EGIP, reopening Abbeyhill station should be possible at low marginal cost – especially if also utilising dwell times for ScotRail trains currently terminating at Waverley.
Benefits

Abbeyhill station is surrounded by the dense tenements of the Calton, Easter Road, London Road and Abbeyhill areas to the east of Edinburgh city centre. It is also close, as its name would suggest, to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

The station site is also situated right below the busy main London Road with its many bus services offering connections eastwards and northwards. Passengers would be able to board the train at Abbeyhill for journeys to the west with easy interchange at Waverley for other onward rail journeys.

We believe this proposal represents a “once in a generation” opportunity to enhance rail facilities in this part of Edinburgh.


END OF NEWS RELEASE

* * * * *
STV Edinburgh South-East article, 1st November 2011:

Edinburgh South-East Home » News
Transport group calls for revival of Abbeyhill Station

Capital Rail Action Group will argue for the station's reopening at Network Rail meeting

By Rebecca Gordon01 November 2011 08:00 GMT

http://files.stv.tv/img/stvlocal/usernews/410x232/26662-transport-group-calls-for-revival-of-abbeyhill-station.jpg

Remains of the platform for north-bound trains at Abbeyhill station Pic: ©: Kim Traynor

Local transport group Capital Rail Action Group (CRAG) are to make a case to reopen a rail station which was closed in 1964.

The group will argue for the reinstatement of Abbeyhill Station at a public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday).

CRAG, who first proposed the reopening earlier this year, say tracks could be laid as part of Network Rail Scotland’s £1 billion Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Scheme (EGIP).

They claim Network Rail Scotland’s plans to relay rails on the redundant track to the north of the main lines heading east from the Calton Tunnels could be extended to reach the site of Abbeyhill Station, which is located close to the Scottish Parliament.

The option was looked into in the 1990s but was abandoned over issues including costs and signalling.

Lawrence Marshall, chair of CRAG, explained that, since most of the infrastructure required will now be covered by EGIP, the project would be relatively small scale.

He said: “Network Rail’s £1 billion project is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Scotland and since it involves Abbeyhill to a small extent we thought it would make sense to put back some railway lines.

“Trains could run through the Calton tunnel taking only two minutes to Waverly. We could provide Abbeyhill with a station again on the back of the Network Rail Scotland.”

The group will join representatives from Network Rail Scotland on Wednesday, who will be continuing local consultation on the EGIP programme.

CRAG, who claim re-opening the 19th century station offers a “once in a generation” opportunity, cite the area’s dense population and potential for passengers, its proximity to the Scottish Parliament and the prospect of good bus connections as reasons for its revival.

Mr Marshall continued: “Hopefully we can get a quarter-hourly service. It’s quite a densely populated part of the city so it’s perfectly feasible that lots of people in the area would use it.

“It gives people the opportunity to get on the train at Abbeyhill rather than have to go up to Princes Street. It would be like the Haymarket of the east. There are some potential sites for development around Abbeyhill too - it could give a boost to the area.”

The group called on the support of candidates during the Scottish elections for the proposals and on Wednesday will welcome local MSPs and councillors to hear their case.

“I think if we can get political support it could be possible because it’s a very modest, small scale project,” added Mr Marshall.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 2 from 7.30pm in London Road Church Hall.

IN DETAIL

CRAG

Picture: Kim Traynor

* * * * *

Edinburgh "Evening News" article, 2nd November 2011:

from http://www.scotsman.com/edinburgh-evening-news/transport/rail_group_claims_abbeyhill_can_form_part_of_1bn_project_1_1942851
Rail group claims Abbeyhill can form part of £1bn project
Abbeyhill train station in the 1960s

Abbeyhill train station in the 1960s

By DAVID McCANN
Published on Wednesday 2 November 2011 12:00

RAIL campaigners say that a £1 billion project to improve train links between Edinburgh and Glasgow provides the best opportunity in 50 years to revive a mothballed station in Abbeyhill.

The Capital Rail Action Group (CRAG) argues that reopening the redundant station would reduce congestion in the city and provide efficient transport links to east Edinburgh.

It also argues that the financial impediments derailing previous attempts to reopen the station could be negated by the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), which will relay rails almost to the old Abbeyhill Station site – therefore carrying out a large proportion of the necessary groundwork.

Speaking ahead of a community meeting tonight, Lawrence Marshall, chair of CRAG, said it was the best chance in a generation to relaunch Abbeyhill station, abandoned since 1963.

“The proposal we have for Network Rail is very modest and would probably only require the building of one platform and access off London Road,” he said.

“Apart from that there’s not a lot to do apart from a few extra hundred yards of track. In order to tackle congestion, we need to see swifter progress in reopening some of the comprehensive rail network that the city previously enjoyed.

“The Scottish Government has commissioned rail works in the Abbeyhill area as part of EGIP. An opportunity exists, as an add-on to these works, to re-open Abbeyhill Station. This would provide the area with a two-minute connection with Waverley, a seven-minute connection with Haymarket, and would re-connect the area with the regional and national rail network. We believe this proposal represents a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to enhance rail facilities in this part of Edinburgh.”

Sarah Boyack, MSP for Edinburgh Central, appeared supportive of the aim and said she hoped Network Rail would give due consideration to the proposals.

“EGIP is a massive programme of investment and it’s important that we get the maximum value from the £1 billion that we spend,” she said.

“That proposal could improve access to the rail network in Edinburgh for many people, and people have supported the idea of reopening the South Suburban Railway for passenger traffic for years now.

“An integrated approach would relieve congestion on the railway network in Edinburgh so I hope Network Rail give CRAG a fair hearing on their proposals.”

Councillors and politicians as well as representatives from CRAG and Network Rail are expected to attend tonight’s meeting at London Road Church Hall, which begins at 7.30pm.


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