More misinformation from MSPs

Campaigners have got used to misinformation from John Lamont MSP, who describes the new railway as the “Galashiels Railway Project” – ignoring the benefits it will bring to a wide swathe of the Central Borders through bus-rail interchange and park-and-ride – but his latest effort plumbs the depths.

A spurious new story in the Hawick News on 19th October ‘revealed’ that the cost of the railway has doubled from the original budget. Well, we knew that already, and it’s no different to the way that the cost of all three previous rail re-opening projects in Scotland increased from original budget to completion, ditto the M74 Northern Extension. And we know how much of a success these new railways have been.

Bizarrely, Lamont viewed this old news as “yet another blow to the Galashiels Railway Project that would see it delayed once again. With nearly £54 million spent there is still very little to show for it as not a single piece of track has been laid yet.” He obviously hasn’t been at Millerhill since June 2011 (see photo above).

While Paul Wheelhouse MSP rightly accused Lamont of “a campaign of misinformation”, he didn’t help matters with a media statement full of errors:

“The previous specification by Labour and the Lib Dems was little better than light rail and would have resulted in a slow journey time of around 70 minutes, lack of dual-tracking, and no provision for future freight development. The project as is now specified will deliver trains in 55 minutes from Tweedbank to Waverley Station, has largely been dual-tracked for improved resilience, has a standard gauge for future freight and provision for freight-handling facilities, while the additional station at Stow is now included.”

Why can’t our political representatives get their facts right?

4 thoughts on “More misinformation from MSPs

  1. Firstly, welcome to the new regime, whoever you are! Secondly, well done for a well written piece above. After I passed on the figures relating to the Alloa line passenger use, Lamont and I had a lengthy email exchange last year where he used his full dictionary to avoid stating whether he supported or opposed Borders Rail.
    I am in no doubt whatsoever that he is opposed to the project. I am in no doubt whatsoever that he alone is largely behind the wealth of misinformation going about – the line stops at Newcraighall and you have to get a bus to Edinburgh etc etc.
    I am by no means alone in welcoming Borders Rail to Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank although you might think so if you were to read the supposed quality Southern Reporter.
    I fervently hope that the opening is not, as is rumoured, delayed until 2015 and, to be honest, can see no reason why construction cannot begin apace tomorrow.
    Anyway, rant over and welcome once again.

    • Many thanks David – good to get a Borders perspective, as opposed to my Edinburgh viewpoint! I agree with your comments, although my feeling is that there is now not enough time left to get the railway finished by 2014. It will be quite a task – the longest railway to be built in Scotland since the Mallaig line in 1901, and the longest rail re-opening in modern British history – and I think a date in 2015 is now inevitable. But after waiting 45 years, what are a few months! It would be interesting to get more views on this.

      Just by way of my background, I’m a CBR Life Member and have spent my working life in and around the railway industry, currently as a rail consultant and author. My book ‘Waverley Route: the life, death and rebirth of the Borders Railway’ was published in August.

  2. Steve Ottevanger says:

    Glad to see the blog has come alive!

    The non story about the increase in the cost of the project quoting the antipathetic Lamont was reported unquestioningly in the Herald on 15 October.

    During a visit to Galashiels a couple of weeks ago, those I spoke to in the street were under the illusion that trains were only running to Newcraighall – a true tribute to the misinformation that is going on. I hope this negative propaganda can be countered strongly and exposed as the mischief that it is.

    On a brighter note, it was good to see that surveying was continuing along the route – BAM Nuttall signs at various locations along the route as evidence that something is happening.

    I agree that it is inevitable that it will be 2015 before services start but I don’t think it is anything to get exercised about; waiting a few more months to get this project absolutely right will be worth it.

    • Thanks Steve. An investigative journalist (if there is still such a thing) should try to pin down who has been spreading this malicious nonsense around.

      I walked the solum from Gorebridge to Fountainhall today – a fascinating experience – and contractors were surveying between Tynehead and Falahill, and diverting utilities under the line at Heriot. A heartening sight!

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