Campaigners in growing village fear calls for railway station being derailed

Developers in Winchburgh are willing to split the cost of a new station with the Scottish Government - but are struggling to secure a commitment.

Campaigners in Winchburgh, West Lothian, fear calls for railway station being derailed STV News

Residents of a fast-growing West Lothian village fear their calls for a railway station are going unheeded.

People living in Winchburgh only have two options to commute to Edinburgh – by car or bus – despite a railway line running through a new build development in the area.

The aim is for Winchburgh to eventually be a town, as homes continue to be built at pace.

It had a population of around 2,400 people in 2015. Five years later, that had increased by more than 50% to just shy of 4,000 residents.

An ongoing development of properties is expected to produce nearly 4,000 homes in total.

A site on Station Road, where locals were able to catch a train until the early 20th century, does have planning permission in principle for a new station.

But a campaign from locals has so far failed to result in any commitment for construction.

Ashleigh Batchelor is among those campaigning. She has long Covid, which means dealing with chronic fatigue and pain, and using the only bus service into the capital isn’t an option for her.

She told STV News: “The unpredictability of the bus service and the length of the journey just makes it unfeasible for me.”

Ms Batchelor, like many others in Winchburgh, is then left having to take the car.

Campaigners say a railway station in the village would help eliminate many of those journeys, perhaps as many as 400,000 a year.

Ms Batchelor added: “A train, taking less than 15 minutes to get to the city centre, would be an absolute godsend for me and for my children.”

But it’s not just about getting people out of Winchburgh – a new railway line would bring people to the village.

Local business owners like Jordan Wright, who owns the pet shop Marley & Co Pet Supplies, said: “It now becomes not only a commuter town to leave Winchburgh, but it becomes a town where people can come and visit.

“And have a look at what we have to offer here, which would be huge for business.”

Residents have been looking to lobby the Scottish Government on the issue for some time and have held meetings attended by politicians from various parties.

This includes local MSP Fiona Hyslop, who is cabinet secretary for transport, but she is limited in what she can do in terms of infrastructure projects in her own constituency.

Developers Winchburgh Developments Limited has told locals it is willing to invest in building a station but would require the Scottish Government to split the funding.

The company’s chief executive John Hamilton said: “The way to get this project done is by the government and the transport authorities taking control of the project and getting around the table.

“There is planning permission in principle for a railway station. We’ve also been doing a large amount of work alongside the site of the proposed railway station.

“We’ve built a railway overbridge, across the main Edinburgh to Glasgow line. That’s a road bridge but it gives access to the railway station site.

“We’ve made a provision for investing in the railway station in Winchburgh. We’re not obliged to fund all of the station in Winchburgh because we’ve produced quite a detailed paper that shows the wider benefits across the region.”

Transport Scotland says it recognises the case for a station in Winchburgh and remains supportive but points out that any project “should be developer- led” and that the developer should accept responsibility for “a significant part of the cost”.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “All parties must work together to ensure it can happen and Transport Scotland remain committed to playing a full part in that collaboration.

“It has also been the longstanding case that any such station should be developer led and supported by the appropriate level of funding, especially in the context of a very large scale and high value development it would serve.

“So any solution must include the developer, one with access to significant resources, accepting responsibility for a significant part of the cost. This responsibility has always been part of the equation.”

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