Relevant though they may be, I am not going to bother you with details how Transport Scotland, Network Rail, SESTrans and various Train Operating Companies interact to organise rail services for East Lothian. Their committees meet out of public sight and move glacially. But our transport problems can be fixed cheaply in six stages:
- Agree East Coast/Virgin are not in the short-haul rail business but ScotRail is
- Extend ScotRail’s Dunbar service by running the present Saturday NB service Mon-Sat, giving half-hourly trains to Drem then hourly to NB or Dunbar
- Replace Class 322 stock with 380 next year as planned (but allocate 3-car units so that they can be doubled up in rush-hour and possibly split/joined at Drem)
- Persuade both First and ELC-supported bus services to meet/feed the trains in an East-Lothian-wide integrated transport net using existing style swipe cards
- Re-open the station at East Linton and restore a ‘down’ platform at Dunbar.
- Double local frequency without corresponding local/express heading conflicts by building platforms on the passing loops at Prestonpans and Drem
Everything needed for steps 1 & 2 is already in place. Five Class 322 units are currently available. Even with one in Glasgow for maintenance, three units are enough to provide an hourly service to NB and Dunbar, with a 30-min service Waverley-Drem.
So, bottom-line, we could get a train service backbone for East Lothian twice as good as now that requires no infrastructure investment: the track, trains and (since ScotRail started to run to Dunbar) training are all in place. A Coast Line could be running this summer and, with marketing, business would boom… if several secret committees agree.