A proposed train station in West Lothian could significantly relieve traffic on the M8, M9 and M90 according to a new report. 

Winchburgh having its own train station could reduce congestion on Central Belt motorway network around the areas of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Falkirk, says a new independent impact report by Systra, a multinational engineering and consulting group which looks at rail and public transport

As well as potentially providing an easier commute for workers travelling to offices in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, the proposal has also been touted as a way for Scotland to take a “significant step” towards its net-zero target, given the fact it could take half a million cars off the road. 

The West Lothian town of Winchburgh is ten miles out of Edinburgh, just north of Broxburn and west of Kirkliston. 

The idea is for the station to be on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line, with a train journey into the capital expected to take less than 15 minutes, potentially replacing slow rush hour motorway traffic. It would also have a Park and Ride site. 

The report suggests the hypothetical Winchburgh station be located at the last viable point for intercepting traffic on the M9 before it reaches the M8/M90, and would serve a catchment of approximately 27,000 people. 

This would account for an estimated 15 percent shift away from car flows towards the entire City of Edinburgh Council area. 

The Herald:

John Hamilton, chief executive of Winchburgh Developments Ltd, unveiled the report yesterday, which unveiled for the first time that a new station could remove an estimated 1658 car journeys from Scotland’s motorways every day. 

The station would also support direct benefits to passengers of £2.4m a year, and generate at least £3.5m of decongestion benefits annually. 

Hamilton said: “Removing almost half a million cars from some of the busiest rush-hour corridors in the country represents a significant benefit, not only in terms of speed of travel and convenience to commuters but as a significant step towards Scotland's net-zero emissions target date of 2045.

“This report shows that a new railway station with ample provision for car-parking would relieve congestion on the M8, M9, and M90 as well as in and around Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Falkirk.”

Winchburgh Developments, which works on development plans for the area, has long supported the idea of a train station in the town and commissioned Systra to undertake a report into the benefits. 

Its chief executive, Hamilton, explains how the fresh revelations over the idea came about: “For more than a decade, Winchburgh Developments has been investing in the sustainable growth and social and economic prosperity of Winchburgh as part of our development plans for the area, and we have always supported plans for a train station. 

“However, as developers, it is not in our power to build a new railway station as this has to be done by Network Rail with support from Scotrail, Transport Scotland, and other stakeholders. 

“As such, we decided to commission Systra to undertake an economic impact report to evaluate the direct impact and wider regional benefits to Edinburgh and the Lothians and believe the findings speak for themselves.” 

The town of Winchburgh has had a train station in the past, however it was last open almost a century ago, in 1930.

Its population has grown in recent years and is expected to reach 13,000 by 2031. 

The Herald:

Local MSP for the Lothian Area, Sue Webber of the Scottish Conservatives, launched a campaign to open a station in Winchburgh earlier this year. The MSP said the growing population of the town made a train station necessary. Writing on a petition to the Scottish Government to launch that station, which has 850 signatures, Webber stated: “A railway station in Winchburgh would provide residents with a convenient transportation option for commuting to these cities for work, education, or leisure activities. This can reduce road congestion, encourage sustainable travel, and enhance overall regional connectivity.”

A discussion was held on Winchburgh Train Station in the Scottish Parliament in March of this year. Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie told MSPs that Transport Scotland supports a developer-funded station and that the Scottish Government Minister for Transport had last met with Winchburgh Developments Ltd, Network Rail and West Lothian Council in December 2022. 

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Transport Scotland is supportive of a new station at Winchburgh. The delivery and funding of a new station at Winchburgh is a matter for the developer.”