A CAMPAIGN for a railway station to return to East Lothian is gathering pace.

Calls have repeatedly been made for a station to service Haddington and the surrounding villages.

Now a steering group has been launched in a bid for passengers to step onto a train in Haddington for the first time since 1949.

Paul McLennan, East Lothian’s MSP, met with representatives from Rail Action Group East of Scotland (Rages), East Lothian Council, the Scottish Government and various other stakeholders to discuss the potential of a rail link returning to the town.

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McLennan, who was previously leader of East Lothian Council, highlighted that there was enthusiasm for a station during the election process in 2021.

At that time, the SNP politician, along with Craig Hoy and Martin Whitfield, who would go on to become South Scotland MSPs, outlined their backing for a station.

McLennan said: “With the successful reopening of East Linton station on the horizon, the experience and heroic effort of Rages and other local groups over the years can be channelled to this new proposal, which has been a long-term aim of Rages.

“I look forward to working with Rages, the community councils, East Lothian Council, the Scottish Government, Network Rail and ScotRail to move this project forward, and hope to provide regular updates on this project once the work of the group is in progress.”

Haddington’s train station, which opened in 1846, closed to passengers in 1949 and to freight about 20 years later.

The route of the original line ran from the west of Haddington to Longniddry, where it joined the main line on to Edinburgh.

Much of the route is still active as a footpath but the steering group hopes to re-establish a passenger rail link for Haddington as part of plans to improve the public transport offering in East Lothian, and reduce reliance on the A1 as the primary way of getting to Edinburgh.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “Officers from East Lothian Council attended the steering group, which discussed potential Haddington rail connectivity.

“The council will continue to work with partners to prioritise, promote and incentivise sustainable transport options to reduce carbon emissions to net zero and improve access to rail connectivity in East Lothian.”

A spokesperson for Rages welcomed the latest development.

They said: “The reopening of a railway station for Haddington has been one of Rages' strategic aims and we have been campaigning for over 20 years to make this happen.

“For just over a year, we have had a stall at the monthly Haddington Farmers’ Market to raise the awareness of our campaign for Haddington; the overwhelming response from members of the public has been positive and supportive of our cause.

“It is great that we have cross-party support for our campaign at local council and government level and to further our cause it is welcoming that Paul McLennan has set up this local steering group to take us a step closer to achieving a new station for Haddington.”