Ex­tend Bor­ders

Rail (UK) - - Contents - Richard Clin­nick As­sis­tant Edi­tor richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk

Trans­port Scot­land an­nounces a study ex­am­in­ing the re­open­ing of the Bor­ders Railway all the way to Carlisle.

CAM­PAIGN­ERS have wel­comed the an­nounce­ment of a study that will in­ves­ti­gate the re­open­ing of the Bor­ders Railway all the way through to Carlisle.

Cur­rently the line from Ed­in­burgh ter­mi­nates at Tweed­bank. The sec­tion be­tween Newcraighall and Tweed­bank re­opened in Septem­ber 2015 af­ter 46 years ( RAIL 783), but long be­fore then cam­paign­ers had been call­ing for the railway’s ex­ten­sion to the Cum­brian city.

On April 10, Trans­port Scot­land (TS) an­nounced that ex­tend­ing the 30½-mile railway a fur­ther 63 miles to Carlisle is one of the op­tions to be con­sid­ered by a new study look­ing at im­prov­ing trans­port pro­vi­sion in the south of Scot­land across all modes - in­clud­ing road, rail and public trans­port.

A con­tract will be awarded to Ja­cobs UK Ltd, sub­ject to com­ple­tion of the manda­tory stand­still pe­riod. Work on the study is ex­pected to start within days, and TS ex­pects it to take around seven months to com­plete.

Find­ings will help in­form the planned re­fresh of the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s Strate­gic Trans­port Projects Re­view (STPR), which will look at fu­ture trans­port pro­pos­als for the whole coun­try.

Cam­paign­ers also hope that the Scot­tish Govern­ment has learned les­sons from the re­open­ing of the Newcraighall-Tweed­bank sec­tion, where punc­tu­al­ity has been poor and far more pas­sen­gers have trav­elled on the route than pre­dicted ( RAIL 815).

“We want to build on the ex­ist­ing Bor­ders Railway by con­sid­er­ing whether it should be ex­tended to Carlisle. The study will also look at how we im­prove ac­cess from the Scot­tish Bor­ders to key mar­kets into Ed­in­burgh, Carlisle and New­cas­tle,” said Scot­land’s Trans­port Min­is­ter Humza Yousaf.

“Work­ing with part­ners in Scot­tish Bor­ders Coun­cil and SES­tran, Trans­port Scot­land will iden­tify a range of op­tions for im­prov­ing trans­port that can be con­sid­ered as part of the re­view of the Strate­gic Trans­port Projects Re­view, which will look at fu­ture trans­port in­fra­struc­ture projects for the whole of Scot­land. Th­ese op­tions could in­clude new rail ser­vices, im­prove­ments to ex­ist­ing road in­fra­struc­ture and im­proved public trans­port pro­vi­sion.”

Cam­paign for Bor­ders Rail Sec­re­tary Nick Bethune told RAIL that the group wel­comed the study, adding: “We hope it goes on to rec­om­mend a full and fit-for-pur­pose fea­si­bil­ity study for a through route from Tweed­bank to Haw­ick and Carlisle. It would be dis­ap­point­ing if the out­come saw less sus­tain­able trans­port op­tions pri­ori­tised over ex­tend­ing the Bor­ders Railway.”

Bethune said that the cur­rent railway only partly ad­dresses the eco­nomic harm caused by the line’s 1969 clo­sure.

“Haw­ick, the worst af­fected town, re­mains iso­lated and in de­cline. Poor links to the south limit the re­gion’s eco­nomic po­ten­tial. The only re­al­is­tic pro­posal that ad­e­quately ad­dresses th­ese prob­lems is the ex­ten­sion of the Bor­ders Railway to Haw­ick and Carlisle. This would pro­vide a gate­way to the re­gion from the eco­nomic pow­er­house of North West Eng­land and strengthen links to Ed­in­burgh."

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