Martin Whitfield, East Lothian Labour’s candidate for the Scottish Parliament, has launched a petition urging the Scottish Government to develop a plan for reinstating a Haddington branch line and constructing a new rail station in the town.
Mr Whitfield’s petition follows a growing campaign for reinstating a rail service in the town over recent years, including from local rail group RAGES (Rail Action Group, East of Scotland) and an assessment carried out by East Lothian Council. The Council has undertaken a considerable amount of work to make a rail station a realistic proposition over recent years and has included it in its Local Development Plan Action Programme.
The petition refers to Haddington’s rapidly growing population and economic importance as the county town as the main rationale for developing rail access. It also cites the momentum on delivering a station in East Linton and the success of the Borders Railway, completed in 2015, as an example of the kind of positive impact such a project could have.
Speaking about the petition, Martin Whitfield said:
“Haddington and the surrounding villages have seen significant growth over recent years, with much more to come in the future. It needs more investment in modern new infrastructure to support this growth and help cope with the increased population and demands on existing services.
“Public transport is an integral part of that infrastructure and Haddington is in desperate need of investment to improve its transport links. Reinstating the Haddington branch line and constructing a new rail station would help solve many of the town’s current transport problems as well as supporting economic growth.
“The recovery from the pandemic is an ideal time for this kind of fresh thinking, especially for projects that will be green as well as helping boost the economy and jobs. Projects like the Borders Railway have demonstrated what can be achieved to improve rail connectivity and I want to see the same level of investment in East Lothian.
“I think this is an issue where we should be able to agree a local cross-party consensus for the benefit of the town and local people and I hope my fellow candidates will sign the petition.”
Visit www.change.org/haddingtonrail to sign the petition.
The petition already has the backing of sitting East Lothian MSP Iain Gray as well as Haddington and Lammermuir ward councillors John McMillan and Shamin Akhtar.
Commenting on his support Mr Gray said:
“Restoring a rail service to Haddington has long been an aim of RAGES and is an issue for which I have always had great sympathy. There is no doubt that the case for a new service in the town has been growing over recent years and I welcome Martin’s initiative in making this one of his campaign priorities.”