Another campaign success for CBR

Just a year after CBR – together with Claudia Beamish MSP – persuaded Transport Minister Keith Brown that the Tweedbank station tracks should be extended to handle 12-coach tourist charter trains, there’s more good news on the campaigning front. Transport Scotland’s recent Draft Invitation to Tender for the ScotRail franchise reveals that CBR’s lobbying for timetable flexibility to allow charters to reach Tweedbank on peak demand day – Saturdays – has been successful. Section 2.6 of the document specifies that:

“The Scottish Ministers consider that it is desirable to allow the operation of charter and tourist services by other operators on this route to promote tourism. The Franchisee will be required to facilitate such operation, and cooperate through alterations to its regular timetabled service, at no additional cost.”

Over many years, CBR (and formerly the Waverley Route Trust) has been arguing that its research demonstrated that some 50% of charter train arrivals at Scottish destinations are on Saturdays – generally in the middle of the day – but that the half-hourly ScotRail train service frequency left no spare route capacity for charters except in the evenings and on Sundays. Now the Borders Railway will be able to welcome trains from across Britain bringing valuable additional visitor spend to the regional economy.

It’s unfortunate that the limitations of Transport Scotland’s infrastructure specification means that the price of properly tapping the charter market is dropping the ScotRail frequency to hourly for a few hours on Saturdays (mostly during the summer) – but at least trains can be operated with double the number of seats at these times.

3 thoughts on “Another campaign success for CBR

  1. I am pleased that the platforms have been extended at Tweedbank but disappointed that no run round loop has been incorporated. This means that all locomotive hauled excursion/tourist trains needed to boost the new railways income will need 2 locomotives. One at each end of the train. This will double the cost of locomotive hire to the train operators. In this present economic climate it will have the effect of making train operators think twice about running a railtour and negating the advantage of the 12 coach train platforms.

    Ian Storey (owner of Loco No. 44767 “George Stephenson”)

  2. When the CBR delegation – with Claudia Beamish MSP – met the Transport Minister in October 2012, it was clear to us that there was no chance of securing a rounding loop in the time left, because of the changes to the station road access etc which would be involved, and the cost of extra track and signalling. So we pushed for what we thought we might still get – and we got it!

    It does seem to be the case that a high proportion of charters are ‘topped and tailed’ these days – to simplify shunting and empty stock movements etc – so it doesn’t look like this is going to be a major disadvantage for the Borders Railway. We thought paths (other than on Sundays) were going to be the biggest remaining problem, but following more lobbying, it will now be a requirement on the next ScotRail franchisee to come to an accommodation with charter operators.

    In short – like a fair number of aspects of the Borders Railway – the provision for charters is sub-optimal. But it’s vastly better than what we would have had without CBR lobbying, ie nothing!

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