ANORAKS among the readership may delight in this third column on railways in as many months. But, unlike the previous two, this one features future expansion, not the ghosts of railways past.

In 1847, the line to Berwick first linked up local communities. Stations as far as Drem still survive. But, excepting Dunbar, those further on like East Fortune or Cockburnspath were closed in the 1960s as uneconomic. Edinburgh’s growth and overspill here has since put our transport links under strain.

Electrification of the East Cost Main Line (ECML) 30 years ago brought a renaissance in long-distance trains, but the surviving hourly service to North Berwick is now overloaded. Local activists formed RAGES (Rail Action Group, East of Scotland) to expand local services into Berwickshire as far as Berwick.

Despite a petition in October 2002 to the Scottish Parliament, a regular newsletter and website ( keeping hope alive, neither the Scottish Government nor ScotRail showed interest beyond Network Rail Route Studies for ECML, whose focus was south of Berwick. This supported reopening stations at Reston and East Linton but, because of limited ECML capacity and priority given to long-distance services, a local service to service them has lacked official interest.

Services at Dunbar have changed with the fortunes of long-distance operators. Services by GNER have evolved to be mostly CrossCountry and TransPennine trains at roughly hourly intervals – but with gaps. Lobbying ScotRail by East Lothian Council a decade ago provided four of their trains to/from Waverley to fill in those gaps.

Provision of a down (Edinburgh-bound) platform at Dunbar has eased some capacity restrictions. But these will return when a £10m Reston station (see fly-through at opens in December 2021. This will also serve Eyemouth, Ayton, Chirnside and Duns. A station at East Linton is due a year or so after that. Both stations are to have a bridge with lifts, bus interchange and expandable car park.

Initial service is to come from TransPennine’s Edinburgh-Newcastle services, with five trains a day stopping. To make full use of the investment, the Scottish Government must pressure ScotRail to provide a proper hourly Edinburgh-Berwick local service, interleaved with the North Berwick as far as Drem. This will also need capital investment to expand capacity, including a third platform terminus at Berwick and reviving the defunct third platform at Longniddry. This latter, together with the existing Dunbar loop, would allow high-speed trains to pass and provide the extra capacity needed for better local services.