WORK on a second platform and footbridge at Dunbar Railway Station will get under way this year.

The £15 million scheme, funded by Transport Scotland, is due to start in the spring and will see a second platform at the busy station in operation for the first time in decades.

Network Rail has appointed Amco as the main contractor.

The two platforms would be linked by a footbridge, with lifts at either side for disabled access.

However, there will not be pedestrian access directly from the south side to the platform, although it is something East Lothian Council is keen to introduce.

Ward councillor Norman Hampshire was pleased to see work progressing.

He told the Courier: “It is definitely going to happen.

“The construction period is from spring 2019 and it is all going to take place. It is going to be a huge improvement in the facilities at the Dunbar station.

“We have still got to secure access from the south, rather than people having to walk all the way round and cross the bridge. If we can get direct access from the south onto the platform, it will be a massive improvement.”

Mr Hampshire said the second platform meant there was a chance of a greater number of trains stopping in the town, which would improve connectivity.

Work is expected to take about a year and should be complete in spring 2020.

According to Network Rail: “The new platform will provide increased capacity and improve operational flexibility. Currently all northbound and southbound services have to use the same platform. Northbound stopping services will use the new platform once it is constructed.

“Beyond 2020, there are aspirations by train companies operating on the East Coast Main Line to operate more long-distance and local services on the route. These cannot be accommodated with the existing infrastructure.”

The announcement was also welcomed by RAGES (Rail Action Group East of Scotland), which described the second platform as “win win”.

A spokesman for the group said: “RAGES welcomes the announcement of the second platform works at Dunbar which will help to increase capacity at East Lothian’s busiest station.

“More than 460,000 journeys were made to and from Dunbar in 2017/18, and provision of a second platform will go towards cementing Dunbar’s status as a popular commuter town, as well as a holiday destination.

“The bridge and lifts will make the platform accessible for disabled users who cannot easily use some of the other East Lothian stations, and northbound trains will no longer have to wait outside the station to allow a southbound train to pass.

“The second platform at Dunbar is a ‘win win’ as it will allow the much-required Edinburgh to Berwick local service to get under way and call at Dunbar to give this town and surrounding area the service it requires and deserves, and relieve the current requirement of northbound trains crossing the southbound line twice when entering and leaving the current single platform at Dunbar.”

The new platform will be long enough to accommodate new trains introduced to the East Coast Main Line last year, and feature two waiting shelters.

Network Rail added: “Wherever possible, Network Rail and our contractors will undertake work during the day. However, there will be occasions when work at Dunbar station will be undertaken during the night.

“It is safer for our staff and contractors to deliver certain works when trains are not running.

“We are regulated to work in a way that minimises impact on train services.”

East Lothian Council’s planning officials gave plans the green light last April.

The new lifts and footbridge at the station were given the go-ahead, while listed building consent was also granted to demolish the old goods shed, which is attached to the main station building.

Work in about 1970 saw the removal of a footbridge, with the current platform used by stopping trains since then.

The former south platform was removed during track electrification works in the early 1990s.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council confirmed they were keen to see pedestrian access added to the new platform from Hallhill.

She said: “We continue to explore means of encouraging active and sustainable means of travel across the county and we are looking at the possibility of securing some means of footpath/cycleway which may access the station from the southern side. However, such proposals are at a very early stage.”

The project does not include any plans to extend the car park but, according to Network Rail, Abellio ScotRail is “considering extending the car park following completion of the new platform”.