The case for re-opening the South Suburban line to passenger trains was highlighted today (Wednesday 11) by Green MSP candidate Robin Harper and local election candidate Alison Johnstone as they visited the site of the old Morningside station.
Greens argue that the move could have multiple benefits for the Edinburgh economy and environment, tackling commuter congestion, offering a convenient alternative to the car and providing a vital feeder to Waverley Station and the planned new train/tram/bus interchange at Haymarket. One of the Scottish Green Party’s key pledges in their Holyrood manifesto is to deliver world class public transport, not more road and airport expansion.
Support for the scheme was recently demonstrated by the e-rail scheme, which found that local businesses, developers and institutions like Edinburgh University were prepared to put up half the cash required for the re-opening of the line.
Alison Johnstone, Green candidate for Meadows and Morningside ward, said: “For too long the Lab/LibDem Executive and the council have procrastinated on re-opening the South Sub when this should be a top priority for the Edinburgh transport system.
“For as little as Â£15 million, a fraction of the cost of the new roads funded by LibDem ministers, Edinburgh could have a flagship rail scheme that will cut congestion and pollution. It will allow very rapid transport from Gorgie in the West to Brunstane in the East, inter-changing with buses all along the route and with trams at Haymarket and potentially Cameron Toll.
“There is huge local support for this passenger railway. Â£8.5m has already been pledged by land owners along the route so there’s clearly a recognition from business too that this line could bring substantial benefits. Greens in the city council and in Holyrood will fight for public transport investment, not more road and airport expansion.”
Robin Harper, top of the Greens’ Lothians list and party co-leader, said, “Climate change will have a devastating impact on the economy, and congestion already costs the UK Â£20 billion each year, so business has a great deal to gain and nothing to lose by supporting the revival of rail network that really meets the needs of communities.
“Re-opening the South Sub to relieve congestion and reduce traffic levels should be a priority for the next Executive. Labour and LibDems have commissioned new road after new road at the expense of public transport â€“ by first voting Green on May 3, the Lothians public can opt for a high quality, efficient rail service.”
The South Suburban line had stops at Waverley, Haymarket, Gorgie and Craiglockhart and onto Morningside, Blackford Hill, Cameron Toll, Craigmillar, Niddrie, and Portobello. There will be stops at The Jewel and Kinnaird under the proposed e-Rail scheme, with Holyrood, Abbeyhill and Meadowbank. The scheme has raised half of the funding privately and Greens want the post-election Executive to ensure funding for the rest of the scheme is found.
Greens also want to enhance suburban rail in and around Edinburgh and upgrade Waverley Station by diverting funds from the unjustifiable Â£610m Edinburgh Airport Rail Link. A much cheaper option would be to build a new station on the Fife line and link the tram scheme with the Glasgow and Stirling lines.
For more information including a Transform Scotland briefing on the South Sub call 0771 761 8771.