In advance of tomorrow’s SBC Planning Committee meeting, Nick Bethune, London Officer of CBR, has urged councillors to ensure that the proposed new road overbridge at Falahill provides sufficent width for future double-tracking of the railway:
“I am writing to you on behalf of the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) about Network Rail’s planning application for a revised road and rail arrangement at Falahill, which as a member of the Scottish Borders Council Planning Committee your planning officers will be asking you to approve tomorrow.
“Our message to the Planning Committee is only to approve this application on condition that the proposed bridge structure be redesigned to allow the railway to be double-tracked in the future. The attached letter, which we submitted to SBC as part of the consultation process, sets out our argument in more detail.
“On page 10 of your officers’ report, under the heading “Railway Specification”, the view is expressed that this is outwith the committee’s remit. We strongly disagree. The committee should know that the applicant’s response to the effect that “any future increases in capacity of the line will be met by additional loops, signals and double tracking in areas clear of bridges or other physical constraints” is in fact an empty assurance designed to appease the well-founded concern that the specification of the railway has been cut back in a way that will severely limit its future potential. Because of the policy of designing all new structures on the line to single-track clearances, the passive provision that the applicant’s statement implies has been allowed for elsewhere will not actually be readily available in reality.
“We urge the committee to act in the interests of proper long-term planning, rather than passively accepting arguments that are motivated solely by short-term cost factors.”