A CAMPAIGN group has reiterated its desire to see a railway station return to Haddington for the first time in 70 years.

RAGES (Rail Action Group, East of Scotland) met with Peter Brett Associates – a leading consultancy of engineers and planners – to outline the case for improved transports links to and from East Lothian.

One of the more ambitious plans was to see the return of a railway station to Haddington.

Residents of the town have not been served by a railway station since 1949, with the station closing to freight nearly 20 years later.

However, RAGES feels there could still be a possibility of a station returning to the town – though the group acknowledged that work needed to be done.

A spokesman for the group said: “RAGES expressed its preference for re-opening of the Haddington branch, ideally to the previous terminus on Station Road.

“Minimal compulsory purchase/relocation of existing industrial units would be required; the biggest physical obstacle would be the reconstruction of the A1 overbridge which was unwisely built without preserving the railway alignment and loading gauge.

“A level crossing would be required at Gateside, failing which an alternative road access could be provided for the new houses on the north side of the line onto the A199.”

There was also a suggestion of creating car parking and even a park and ride facility in the town to serve the new service, which would link the town with Edinburgh.

The spokesman added: “As insufficient parking exists at Station Road (although part of the West Road field adjacent to the station site could be considered), a park and ride station at Oak Tree would be essential, which could also serve the substantial Letham Mains and Gateside developments.

“Just east of where the A199 crosses the railway formation, there is a large rectangular piece of ground, occupied only by scrub, which would be suitable as a car park.

“As only single track would suffice between Longniddry and Haddington, it would be possible to retain a footpath/cycleway as the line was originally provided with double track throughout.

“An electric train service from Haddington to Edinburgh would provide the speed and capacity which road transport – car or bus – cannot match. Frequency should be half-hourly.”

Councillor Tom Trotter, who represents Haddington, backed the station bid.

He said: “It is a good idea, especially with the town expanding as it is.

“It would be a tremendous asset to have.”

However, the councillor felt it was more likely the station would have to find a new site, such as Alderston, to the north of the town.

He added: “In the short-term it is unrealistic, but hopefully in the longer term things can be put in place to make it a realistic possibility.

“It is a great idea and I’m sure it would get support from all the local ward councillors, but where it would go and how much it would cost are questions.”