Campaign for Borders Rail Press Release – 2 June 2020

“Campaign more important now than ever”

  • “Building the new cross-border rail rink is the most important post-coronavirus project we can undertake to redefine ourselves” Simon Walton, chair, Campaign for Borders Rail
  • Campaign for Borders Rail has made a radical restatement of policy, and pledges more to commerce and the community on both sides of the Border. 
  • Addressing the membership through the latest newsletter – published today – the Campaign restated its case for extending the Borders Railway through Hawick to Carlisle. 

Expanding on its aims to serve the community and facilitate economic regeneration, beginning with the establishment of a through, cross-border rail link, the Campaign for Borders Rail says that the need for investment in the community is even greater in the light of the coronavirus crisis. 

In a leader column for the newsletter, Nick Bethune, Campaign secretary, said that the need for investment represented by the new rail link had only increased in the past few months. “Despite the trend for increased home working given impetus by the crisis, it’s clear that the capacity and coverage of the rail network will need to expand in future,” he said. “Changes in strategic priorities are needed to address the climate emergency and inclusivity goals. The ‘new normal’ may be very different but the vital need to extend the Borders Railway remains.”

Simon Walton, Campaign chair, said building the line is now more important than ever. His written address to the membership, reproduced below, is an affirmation of Campaign policy, and a positive response to the coronavirus crisis. “Governments on both sides of the Border, and elected representatives from all political persuasions, are united in the understanding that economic development is vital if there is to be a meaningful recovery. Infrastructure, which demonstrably supports both commerce and community is the best way to invest in that recovery,” he said. 

“The evidence of the success of the existing Borders Railway, and other rail-based projects nation-wide, gives precedent to the business case made by the Campaign,” added Simon Walton. “It is our commitment to the members of the Campaign, who have already demonstrated their support for the community at large, to push for that consensus to be turned into commitment and move as rapidly as possible through the stages of development and construction to completion and operation.”

Extract from Campaign for Borders Rail Newsletter #62 (June 2020).

View from the Chair

Building the line is now more important than ever, says Simon Walton.

We are facing a worldwide crisis that transcends any of our own ambitions. Our lives and livelihoods are in turmoil. There are stresses and anxieties most of us will never have faced before. We are tied down, in a cycle of isolation and immobility. 

But not forever. Of this, we must not lose sight. 

I have been receiving reports of sacrifices made by members, working hard in their communities, and helping make life better for family, friends, neighbours and strangers who need support. Once again, I am proud to be part of the Campaign, and count myself among your number. People who support the Campaign are the sort of people who understand the value of community, and are prepared to take that extra step, for the benefit of others. 

When this crisis in our lives has past – and it will pass – we will have experienced the very best that our community has to offer. Our nation – however you define nation – will have pulled together, in ways we may not have thought possible. We have demonstrated how important it is to pool our resources, and value what we have to offer, wherever we are. 

For these reasons, I say that our Campaign is more important than ever.

Bringing communities together, making it more possible to communicate with each other, will be even more important. Better connecting the Borders to each other, and to those communities around us, will be recognised for its true worth.

Yet, more importantly, there will be a need to better define our sense of national purpose. Tangible evidence that we pull together as one. Projects that bring people together, and serve a national purpose too, will be the most important part of that recovery. 

No matter how you stand, on issues of community, communication or nation, there is one project of which I can think, that answers all those calls, and defines our recovery. That project is the completion of the Borders Railway. The very project to which our collective ambition is directed Onward from Tweedbank to Hawick and Carlisle, reconnecting the Borders in the spirit of community and cooperation.

Our movements may be restricted – for now – but our ambition remains unbounded. We do of course keep up our efforts remotely. When the time is right, and it is safe to do so, we will be re-engaging with decision makers, and progressing the Campaign.

Content also includes:

  • New Campaign website revealed 
  • Extension plans in more detail
  • Historic photo feature of late 1960s excursion 
  • This edition’s guest elected representative is Paul Wheelhouse MSP
  • Northern Powerhouse director Henri Murison on strategic significance of a new cross-border rail link