A SENIOR councillor has warned that time is ticking if East Linton’s new railway station is to open on schedule.

A two-decade campaign has been fought to see a station return to the village.

Despite commitments from the Scottish Government that the station – along with one at Reston in the Scottish Borders – will open by 2024, fears have repeatedly been raised that the stations could slip further down the line.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, local ward member and cabinet spokesman for the environment, said: “They are now into the design stage of East Linton and Reston stations. At East Linton it is going to be a six-carriage station. That is a much bigger platform than what we thought was going to happen and is going to take up more land at East Linton.”

The village’s new station would not be on the site of the former station there, which closed in 1964. Instead, it would be to the west. However, before any station can be built, a planning application will need to be submitted to East Lothian Council.

Then members of the public can get a chance to see the proposed design and pass on their views.

Mr Hampshire said: “The two stations have to be opened by 2024. That is the plan to get it constructed and built by that time – that is a real tight timescale. Planning consent and all the land has to be secured.

“There is land protected through the planning process but it still needs to be taken into ownership.”

Already, East Lothian Council has agreed to put forward more than £3 million towards the cost of the station, with Scottish Borders Council doing similar for Reston.

But Mr Hampshire acknowledged there was a degree of scepticism about the stations opening.

He said: “We have promised this station for such a long time now.

“If we are saying 2024, a lot of people are sceptical about it and it has been said to them on numerous occasions and not been delivered.

“Some people will not believe it until they see it on the ground.”

Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP, met with Transport Minister Michael Matheson MSP last Thursday, with discussions looking at rail services across the county and East Linton’s proposed station.

Mr Gray was hopeful matters were moving in the right direction. He said: “We cannot get back the many years of delay, but setting that aside it was good to make sure that yet another new Transport Minister is fully aware of how important this project is, and to hear from him that there are no new barriers to its delivery currently on the horizon.

“Indeed, the suggestion that both the design work and capacity study should be complete by the summer, potentially making it possible to give a date for work on the station to begin, is a positive sign.”

A spokesman for Transport Scotland stressed that they remained committed to the station being up and running by 2024.

He said: “The Scottish Government is a strong supporter of East Linton station.

“It has previously been agreed between the Scottish Government and East Lothian Council that East Linton station will be delivered as early as practicable in Control Period 6 (2019-24).

“Network Rail is currently developing a detailed design for the station and, once complete, further information on the delivery programme, including any associated works and necessary approvals, will be advised.”