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Building on success – onwards to Hawick and Carlisle

Re-connecting communities cut off in 1969 by the worst rail closure in British history

First slated for the axe in 1963 by British Railways' infamous Chairman, Dr Richard Beeching, the closure of the Waverley Route from Edinburgh through the Borders to Carlisle ranks as the worst rail cut in British history, with Galashiels and Hawick left further from a railway station than any other towns of their size in Britain. Now Gala has re-joined the rail network, but CBR’s work goes on – with a key aim being to seek restoration of passenger and freight rail services along the entire 98-mile length of the Waverley Route, re-connecting the communities cut off in 1969.

Why extend to Hawick & Carlisle?
Hawick is the Borders town which has suffered most from the loss of the old Waverley Route in 1969. And to meet its full potential, the Borders also needs a direct rail link to the South. The key benefits of southwards extension would be:

  • better social inclusion, economic regeneration and tourism opportunities
  • an attractive alternative to the car – faster, safer and greener travel for the future
  • sustainable transport for timber from Kielder and the Borders forests – getting log lorries off the roads
  • a strategic diversionary route, relieving pressure on the busy West Coast Main Line

Can it really be done?

  • Yes! The ambition enjoys support from politicians at the highest levels of government, from Borders Chamber of Commerce – and Scottish Borders, Carlisle and Cumbria councils
  • high-level planning policies are in place to protect the disused trackbed from further redevelopment.

What needs to happen next?
CBR is pushing strongly for a comprehensive feasibility study to be undertaken by central and local government. To avoid the kind of mistakes which were made in the original feasibility study for the Borders Railway in 1999-2000, we are pressing for the following key issues, amongst others, to be tackled in the new study:

  • a through route to Carlisle to be the ultimate objective
  • maximum journey time targets of Edinburgh to Galashiels in 50 minutes; Hawick in 70 minutes; Carlisle in 115 minutes
  • re-examine the case for timber by rail from Kielder and the southern Borders
  • examine the case for other types of freight to and from the Central Borders
  • examine the value to the wider rail network of a diversionary route
  • provide a robust infrastructure specification and sensible future-proofing for upgrades
  • recommend any further planning safeguards needed to protect the railway line of route
  • an early engineering study of the best means of negotiating the Melrose bypass incursion on to the original trackbed of the railway

A direct rail link to the South would see better social inclusion, economic regeneration and tourism opportunities for Hawick.