The Campaign for Borders Rail has been one of the most successful grassroots rail campaigns in Great Britain, a story of concerned citizens from all walks of life getting together to right the 1969 injustice of complete closure of the 98-mile Waverley Route through the Borders. These are the landmarks in the history of CBR:
October 1998 Discussions between Borders Transport Futures (BTF) – a company which came very close to securing the rebuilding of the southern end of the railway for timber traffic – and Galashiels resident Petra Biberbach result in the calling of a public meeting as a first step towards establishing a campaign group supportive of BTF's aim of getting the Borders back on the rail network for both freight and passengers.
January 1999 CBR is formally launched at a Burns Supper in Melrose station restaurant with Petra Biberbach as Chairperson.
Late 1999 17,000 signatures are collected for a petition to be presented to the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee, in favour of reopening the Waverley Route throughout.
2000 The Public Petitions Committee meets in Galashiels to consider our petition. CBR members give evidence in a packed Volunteer Hall and a subsequent debate in the Scottish Parliament unanimously endorses the petition's aims.
2001 In cooperation with Stow Community Council, funding is secured for carrying out a survey to establish potential rail use from the village. This eventually leads on to a separate (and successful) campaign for a well-located station in Stow.
July 2002 The official proposals for an Edinburgh to Tweedbank passenger line are published. CBR participates in the subsequent consultation exercise and flags up many concerns.
Late 2002 The Waverley Route Trust is set up by a number of CBR members as a separate entity to look at ways of securing a more innovative type of railway than that contained in the official proposals.
2005 CBR members give evidence to the Waverley Railway Bill Committee at meetings in Newtongrange and Galashiels.
2006 The Waverley Railway (Scotland) Act is passed by the Scottish Parliament, including a requirement to provide a station at Stow.
In 2009 CBR welcomes Stewart Stevenson’s comment that an extension to Carlisle is a "perfectly reasonable ambition" and Transport Scotland’s visionary Pre-qualification Document issued to companies wishing to design, build, finance and maintain the new Edinburgh-Tweedbank railway. The document flags up many of the issues which CBR had been campaigning for – faster journey times, infrastructure provision for freight and passenger charter trains and a design facilitating extension south from Tweedbank.
In October 2012 CBR representatives, together with Claudia Beamish MSP, meet Transport Minister Keith Brown and successfully press the case for the design of the Tweedbank station infrastructure to be amended to accommodate viable tourist charter trains.
In 2013, CBR launches its 'Onwards to Hawick' campaign and hears that its lobbying for ‘paths’ to be made available for charters within the ScotRail timetable has been successful.
In November 2014 CBR's AGM hears from new ScotRail franchisee Abellio that its campaign for Class 158 trains on the Borders Railway to be refurbished (with more bike and luggage space, and better seat / window matching) has also been successful.
March 2015 The Westminster Scottish Affairs Select Committee concludes that 'The UK Government should work with the Scottish Government and with key agencies on both sides of the border to extend the new Borders Railway southwards from Galashiels to Carlisle.'
For the full story of the Campaign for Borders Rail – and the political tensions throughout the 21-year battle to re-open the railway – we recommend reading the 256 page "Waverley Route: the battle for the Borders Railway" by our life member, David Spaven. Published in May 2015, it is available price £14.99 from good bookshops or direct from Argyll Publishing.