Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Scottish - North Berwick review 1

25/8/08 Edinburgh to North Berwick

Cost of ticket: £5.30  - Cheap Day Return

Dept Edinburgh: 09.40   Arrive:  North Berwick 10.13. 

Journey time 33 minutes

Distance: 4 ½ miles (from Drem)    Weather: cloudy

Train type: Class 322 4-car EMU  (single track after Drem)

Railway company: First ScotRail

Frequency of trains - half hourly

My train is about five minutes late leaving Edinburgh and soon after passing through the east tunnel of Waverley station is reaching speeds of up to 70 mph as we speed away from Edinburgh. We pass the Meadowbank Sport's Centre on the left and then the freight line from Leith comes in on the left soon after. Then on the right we pass Craigentinny depot which has a few ScotRail units as well as a shunter and the maroon carriages of The ? Scot train on its tracks. Soon after the line to Newcraighall leaves us on the right. We then go into a cutting for a while and emerge out into the countryside. Its ploughed fields on both sides as we slow down for our first stop at Musselburgh. It is a newish looking station with a basic shelter on each platform. The station signs say, "Alight here for Queen Margaret's University". There's a car park on the south side of the station and lots of new housing on the north side. We go into a small cutting and emerge with more new housing on the left. The Edinburgh avoiding line then joins us from the right as we pass a golf course on both sides of the track. We are soon back up to full speed again as the scenery changes to arable fields of mainly wheat on both sides. The A1 is in the distance on the right and then new houses appear on the right and older ones on the left as we come into Wallyford station. It has two blue-framed shelters on each platform, the south side one containing a ticket machine. We then enter a low cutting and then emerge with gentle slopes on our right, again with wheat growing in them. There is a new housing estate on the left as we arrive at Prestonpans, where a famous battle took place here a long time ago. There's a memorial on the right straight after the station. The station itself has nice cream and red panelled station building and a large car park to the north. There is the remains of a line off to the left and then it's into another low cutting, before some old sidings on the right come into view. There are our first views of the Forth Estuary on the left as we reach speeds of over 70 mph. Once again there are arable fields on both sides of the track. We stop at Longniddry, one of the more unusual station names in Britain. It's just a small hamlet with a few houses on the left and fields on the right. There is a shelter on each platform with the south side one having a ticket machine in it. We leave the station and pass under the A6137 and see a tower monument on a hilltop on the right. We then descend and sharply curve to the left as we slow down for Drem station. It has a nice red and cream shelter on the down platform and brick building on the up platform, reminiscent of Strathclyde Passenger Transport colours. It's another small countryside station with a few houses on the left and open fields to the right. There are now three tracks as we move off the East Coast Mainline and turn northeastwards as we go onto the branch. We start to go downhill pass more arable fields on both sides. We then enter a deep cutting hewn out of rocks, before emerging with a view of a stump type hill, on a smaller scale to the one where Edinburgh Castle is built upon. We start to see the coast again on the right before entering another cutting. We slow and emerge into North Berwick station, which has just the single platform with a steel framed shelter. It's a newish station, which replaced the original station a few hundred yards further down the track. About 30 people are waiting to get on which maybe due to the Edinburgh Festival, but it shows that this line is still well used. As the train is about five minutes late it's a very quick turnaround before we move out again. There's a nice touch in that someone has placed the iron letters of North Berwick on the other side of the platform with two train shaped boxes full of flowers on either side.

Summary: A busy suburban branch line which now has a half hourly service as opposed to hourly in the past. It should continue for a long time yet.      MC