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Rail Lines and Stations (Support for Reopening)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th November 2016.

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Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

2. To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to third sector organisations that seek to build a case for the reopening of rail lines and stations. (S5O-00303)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

If requested, the Scottish Government provides advice through Transport Scotland to third sector organisations and others on the application of its transport appraisal and business case guidance. The guidance is published on Transport Scotland’s website.

Photo of Mr Mark Ruskell Mr Mark Ruskell Green

The minister might not be aware that the Newburgh train station group recently applied unsuccessfully for funds from the national lottery to develop a Scottish transport appraisal guidance report after Fife Council had exhausted funds supporting the STAG process for the critical Levenmouth rail route. Does he agree that the planning of our 21st century rail network should not depend on a lottery game? Will he commit to the provision of enough funds to examine the cases of all emerging rail projects, while also reviewing the STAG process to make it more streamlined, transparent and cost effective?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I am more than happy to discuss that in more detail with the member. I met members of the Levenmouth rail campaign and had a good discussion with them. The proposal has some merit, although there are still questions that need to be answered, which Fife Council is working on.

The campaigners did not raise the funding of the STAG appraisal as an issue, but I agree with them that there is merit in looking at whether the appraisal process can be made less cumbersome. I am more than happy to do that and to take that feedback. I am waiting for the council’s feedback on the Levenmouth rail option. All rail projects will be considered with an open mind if they have fully costed and robust business cases.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

Success has been demonstrated by the number of passengers who are travelling on the Waverley line from the Scottish Borders, which illustrates the positive impact that opening lines and stations has on rural communities. The minister is aware of the campaign to reopen East Linton and Reston stations. Will the Scottish Government indicate when those much-needed stations will be reinstated?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

When I last met the stakeholders who are involved in that conversation, I mentioned that the Scottish Government has increased its contribution to the construction of those stations to 50 per cent. I received a letter from Scottish Borders Council that said that it wished to enter into further discussions and, when I reply to it in the next few days, I will ensure that Rachael Hamilton is copied in. There is a way forward and we are committed—as are the council and the elected members, I am sure—to the reopening of East Linton and Reston stations.