Another campaign success for CBR

Today’s historic announcement of the Borders Railway contract signing by Transport Scotland and Network Rail also brought confirmation of the success of CBR’s campaign (together with the Waverley Route Trust)  for Tweedbank station to be redesigned to accommodate tourist charter trains.

The Tweedbank terminus platform tracks will now be extended to 285m length, enabling commercially viable 12-coach charters to use the Borders Railway – and bringing in new visitor spend to attractions such as Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, Melrose and the Borders abbeys.

Great credit should go to the Scottish Government for listening to CBR, which has argued long and hard for this. The Borders delegation to the Settle & Carlisle line in August – an inspired idea organised by Bill Jamieson and including Claudia Beamish MSP and regional tourism representatives – was crucial in firing up Claudia to press for a meeting with the Transport Minister, Keith Brown. He listened to CBR’s arguments, and has now accepted the merits of the case we have been making for more than a decade.

Congratulations all round, not least to Bill, who today steps down after 13 years continuous service as a CBR officebearer. What a way to go!

12 thoughts on “Another campaign success for CBR

  1. Fantastic news and congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to secure this vital announcement! We can now look forward to travelling over part of this wonderful route – something I have always wanted to do but thought would never have the chance. More importantly, I am sure this will have a significant and positive long-term impact on the economy of the Borders. I believe the usage of the line will exceed all expectations and strengthen the case for onward extension to Hawick, hopefully within a few years. The impetus for the Carlisle connection may come not only from the desire for a direct connection from the Borders towns to the south and the potential for carrying timber from Keilder etc, but also from strategic developments on the national rail network. If capacity on the West Coast main line between Carlisle and Edinburgh/Glasgow via Carstairs is increasingly required for high speed passenger services to and from London, as some expect, then the case for an alternative route for use by slower freight trains and inter-regional stopping trains (such as those currently operated by TransPennine Express) becomes stronger. Time will tell, but after today’s news I am much more hopeful.

      • There are certainly some serious breaches of the original trackbed south of Tweedbank: the A6091 Melrose Bypass, Newstead (where the A6091 used the trackbed to minimise further damage to the Roman Fort); A68 breach at Ravenswood; roads in Newtown St Boswells; Teviot and Lynnwood viaducts at Hawick; the poor state of Whitrope Tunnel; Sandholm and Liddel viaducts at Newcastleton. These are the most obvious ones that spring to mind. There are certainly a good many other smaller encroachments, including buildings on the trackbed, but as we have seen these can be dealt with. I believe that the whole of the trackbed is now protected from further development by local planning policy so hopefully the situation should not get any worse.

        Looking on the positive side, the work of reinstating the Edinburgh-Tweedbank section is arguably one of the hardest parts. Whilst we are fortunate that the alignment and most of the bridges along the Gala Water survived, the new route has had to contend with numerous obstacles in the Edinburgh and Midlothian areas including mine workings remediation, having to tunnel under the city bypass and the A7 breaches at Dalhousie, Arniston/Shank Bridge and Falahill. Mile for mile, I would be surprised if reinstating the line to the south proves more difficult than this. If so, perhaps we should view yesterday’s announcement as more than just the first step towards full reinstatement?

        Overcoming the inertia to get the project started and give it ongoing momentum has in many ways been the hardest part. Though this first step is limited to around 30% of the original route, I believe it represents a significantly bigger proportion of the effort required to complete the reinstatement of the whole line.

  2. This is tremendously good news in righting part of the insane and shortsighted Govt. decision that saw the whole Waverley Route close in 1969 and caused Borders folk to thus become so isolated.

    I fully concur with Nick Bethune’s longer term views for re-instatement of the whole Waverley Route.

    Looking forward to the day that I can again travel by train from Exeter St D to Galashiels !

    With thanks to all for their efforts so far.

  3. Good news about the longer platform at Tweedbank, but will there be a run-round loop for charter trains or will they need to have a loco at each end with the added costs that incurs?

    • There won’t be a loop at Tweedbank – this would have been a step too far for Transport Scotland, involving relocation of road access to the station car park as well as additional track work and signalling.

      So ‘toppng and tailing’ with locos at front and rear will indeed be required – but this has become an almost standard feature of British charter train operations in recent years, as it makes operations generally much more flexible.

      • If a run round loop was able to be provided at the Tweedbank terminus it would of course reduce NR costs of Engineers Dept.trains as only one loco, vice loco at each end, would normally be required.

        If a Special Passenger train was worked by steam loco the max speed when the steam loco was hauling the train tender first (either from or to Edinburgh) would be 35 mph ..this could cause pathing problems etc.
        If a steam loco is towed tender first then a max speed of 60 mph applies.
        So without a run round loop at Tweedbank a loco at each end of a Special passenger train is not so bad as it may at first appear.

        In any case it may be found ‘prudent’ for a loaded train of 12 DB/DH Commonweath/B4 bogied MK I coaches (or equivalent) to have two locos. bearing in mind the several miles of gradients at 1:70.

        Does anyone know the BR Max loads for, example, an A1,A2,A3,A4, Black 5 & Britannia Steam locos and cl 40,45 & 47 Diesel locos from Edinburgh Waverley to Galashiels as I no longer have my BR loads book for this area ?

        One assumes now that Scotrail has advertised for Drivers (and no doubt in due course Guards) to be based at Tweedbank that one or two Diesel units will be outstabled each night in the platform/s at Tweedbank to reduce costs and avoid empty or almost empty moves at end & start of each day’s service to & from Edinburgh Haymarket Depot.

  4. Simon G Walton says:

    Having picked up the reins from Lorne (as the incoming chairman) I feel I have in my hands a veritable wild mustang of a steed. What enormous impetus we now have to make the Borders Railway project not just a boon for the Borders, but a great example of what can be achieved by riding for a common cause. That’s enough equine eulogies – ed.

    • In reply to Tony’s query, I’ve just raked out an old Ian Allan ABC and this gives all the LNER Pacifics as being RA9. Britannias are RA8 and Black 5s RA7. There must be a big question mark over some of the refurbished bridges being permitted to take a Pacific even at reduced speed. I notice that a B1 is RA5 so should be OK and would be very appropriate for the route.

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