Hundreds of people have backed a petition calling for the reinstatement of passenger services to a suburban railway line in Edinburgh in a bid to ease congestion in the capital.

Council planners ruled out reopening the Edinburgh Suburban and Southside Junction railway, also known as the Ed South Sub, as part of a draft plan for carbon-neutral transport links in the city by 2030.

However, a new petition is now calling for a ‘feasibility study’ to be carried out on reopening the rail link, which would see the tracks come back into use for citywide passenger services for the first time since 1962.

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It argues the terms laid out in City of Edinburgh Council’s city mobility plan, which calls for “bold, transformational action” on sustainable travel, fit perfectly with reopening of the line, saying it would create an “existing cross city route avoiding the city centre for some journeys”.

It also pointed to the newly constructed Borders railway and future electrification of the UK’s rail network as examples of projects which could inspire a rebirth of the route.

The line opened in 1884 and connected communities in Craiglockhart, Gorgie and Morningside with the likes of Abbeyhill, Portobello and Duddingston.

However, it closed almost 60 years ago and now serves empty passenger trains, freight transport and rail tour operators.

The petition states: “Taking into account CEC's City Centre Transformation, proposed electrification of the line planned by Network Rail Scotland in coming years and not least the Climate Emergency declared by Edinburgh, Scottish & UK governments in 2019, it seems this project would be a great opportunity to put these words into action. 

The Herald: The line once provided a rail link between Gorgie and Portobello. Image: Wikimedia CommonsThe line once provided a rail link between Gorgie and Portobello. Image: Wikimedia Commons

“The fact that this line passes through one of only six Scottish UK Parliament Constituencies without a railway station indicates something isn't right, especially as this is an urban not island or rural constituency. 

“It means for Edinburgh South residents all journeys by rail are extended with bus connections to the city centre and less convenient than using a car.”

The petition organisers said it could connect to the existing rail network, meaning the likes of ScotRail would operate on it, or create a new link using ‘TramTrains’ similar to those in Rotherham and Sheffield.

It is hoped they would connect to Edinburgh’s current tram network, which is set to be extended into Leith after a protracted project connecting the city centre and Edinburgh Airport.

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The petition continues: “By using either Trains and TramTrains this route could still be used by the infrequent freight services that bypass Waverley Station. The TramTrain technology has been proven for decades in Karlsruhe, Germany and is already being used by Network Rail for the Sheffield to Rotherham TramTrain service. 

“There is so much potential for joined up journeys that are off-street, reducing congestion, faster and allow more local connections to either the Edinburgh Trams or National Rail network.

“We want to send a clear signal of the demand for a full feasibility study to be undertaken and subsequent business cases made for funding applications.”