ONE of Scotland’s newest railway stations has been branded a flop after attracting less than half of the estimated users in its first year.

Taxpayer-funded Edinburgh Gateway opened in December 2016 at a cost of £41 million – almost double its original budget.

But despite official estimates it would see 500,000 to 600,000 passengers pass through it every year, new figures show just 230,090 visited the station in the 11 months to November.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Mike Rumbles MSP said the Government’s business case for the station “has come completely off the rails”.

He said: “These figures show that Edinburgh Gateway is sitting lonely and underused.

Liberal Democrats warned that it would have been better to build a proper airport station, instead we now have a vastly over-budget station with poor connections.”

Edinburgh Gateway was initially planned to connect to the Edinburgh to Glasgow line, but the proposals were later dropped – a decision many now blame on its poor performance.

It lies next to the depot for Edinburgh’s controversial tram system, and offers services to Fife, Perth, Dundee and Inverness, as well as a tram connection to nearby Edinburgh Airport.

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Figures for the last 11 months, released under Freedom of Information laws, show around 4,790 passengers pass through the station every week on average.

The shortfall in users amounts to around £1.3 million in lost ticket sales, if calculated using average fare revenues from the Office of Rail and Road.

As well as taxpayers picking up the bill for the station’s construction, they also pay for its staff due to the interchange being excluded from the ScotRail franchise agreement with Abellio.

Transport Scotland declined to say how many employees work at the station, but confirmed it was manned between 5.50am and 11.30pm every day.

Staff also cover automatic ticket gates during the morning and evening rush hours, as well as at peak times on Saturdays.

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Jamie Greene called on the Government to take full responsibility for its “wildly wrong” projections.

He said: “The SNP Government planned this project and spent a significant amount of taxpayers’ money on it.

“It must take full responsibility for these failings, and explain why these projections were so wildly wrong.

“What’s more, the money spent on this initiative was far in excess of what was initially pledged.

“Commuters are fed up of a rail service which is too often over-priced and unreliable. Mistakes like this only exacerbate the situation.”

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But Paul Tetlaw of Transform Scotland – which campaigns for sustainable transport – said upcoming development in the surrounding area offered a “significant potential for passengers”.

He added: “Opposition politicians would be better focusing their attention on the Government’s massive road building programme, rather than one single station.”

Transport chiefs admitted the station had failed to attract the number of passengers originally expected.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Ministers are committed to increasing rail as a regular travel choice and we work with ScotRail to encourage passenger growth.

“While these figures are lower than initial estimates for Edinburgh Gateway Station, future growth is expected as housing and business developments take shape in the local area.”

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Upcoming developments in the area include 1,500 homes immediately to the north of the station, as well as the nearby International Business Gateway scheme, which describes itself as a “new city quarter for Edinburgh”.