Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of Bor­ders rail line con­sid­ered

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By ALASTAIR DALTON Trans­port Cor­re­spon­dent

Plans to elec­trify the Bor­ders Rail­way to cut jour­ney times are be­ing con­sid­ered by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

An up­grade to the Ed­in­burgh tweed bank line would al­low Sco­trail to run the lat­est elec­tric trains, re­plac­ing the cur­rent car­riages, which are among the op­er­a­tor’s old­est and least re­li­able.

The sin­gle-track route was “fu­ture-proofed” to make adding overhead elec­tric wires far eas­ier.

Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the Bor­ders Rail­way to cut jour­ney times is be­ing con­sid­ered by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, The Scots­man has learned.

The up­grade is also thought likely to im­prove re­li­a­bil­ity and could en­able more fre­quent trains on the Ed­in­burgh-tweed­bank line.

The lat­est Sco­trail elec­tric trains could run on the route to re­place the cur­rent car­riages which are among the op­er­a­tor’s old­est and least re­li­able.

These have the po­ten­tial for re­duc­ing the hour-long jour­ney by be­ing able to ac­cel­er­ate faster from sta­tions and up to the 880ft Falahill sum­mit, south of Gore­bridge, which is the tenth high­est in Bri­tain.

Adding overhead elec­tric wires to the 35-mile line would also be much eas­ier than on many routes be­cause it was “fu­ture-proofed” for such a devel­op­ment.

Space was left un­der bridges and in tun­nels for the wires to be added when the rail­way was built four years ago.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s Trans­port Scot­land agency con­firmed the scheme was be­ing ex­am­ined.

A spokesper­son said: “We re­main com­mit­ted to a rolling pro­gramme of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, and are work­ing with Net­work Rail to iden­tify the next Scot­tish elec­tri­fi­ca­tion scheme.

“Sev­eral routes are un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

“Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of Scot­land’s rail­way net­work is a key com­po­nent of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing rail ser­vices and tackling cli­mate change.”

A Net­work Rail spokesper­son said: “We are work­ing closely with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­tend elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and the faster, more re­li­able and greener jour­neys it brings.”

The Cam­paign for Bor­ders Rail wel­comed the news but said other im­prove­ments were also needed. Chair­man Si­mon Wal­ton said: “Pos­i­tive news of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, no mat­ter how early in the process, is very en­cour­ag­ing for the rail­way, and for our am­bi­tion to see the line ex­tended through Haw­ick to Carlisle.

“It’s bet­ter for the rail­way, par­tic­u­larly given the chal­leng­ing to­pog­ra­phy. Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion would of­fer bet­ter re­li­a­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity, with newer and faster trains.

“How­ever, we must con­tinue to cam­paign vig­or­ously for fur­ther in­fra­struc­ture en­hance­ments – such as more dou­ble track sec­tions and a bet­ter junction with the east coast main line at Por­to­bello in the east of Ed­in­burgh.”

David Spaven, au­thor of Waver­ley Route, said: “Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion – with faster ac­cel­er­a­tion of trains – would help to over­come the sig­nif­i­cant con­straints im­posed when the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment de­cided to build the line with much less dou­ble track than pre­vi­ously planned.”

“Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion is bet­ter for the rail­way, given the chal­leng­ing to­pog­ra­phy. It of­fers bet­ter re­li­a­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity, with newer and faster trains” SI­MON WAL­TON

0 Sco­trail’s cur­rent diesel trains which serve sta­tions on the line such as Stow are among its old­est and least re­li­able

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